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Contemporary art

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

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The coming of Sigai



Glen Mackie


1975 -

Language group

Kala Lagaw, Torres Strait region


Glen Mackie, who is also known as Kei Kalak, has been at the forefront of the Torres Strait Islander print movement since the 1990s. He was taught to carve and paint be members of his extended family and explores both family stories, and environmental issues in his works. Mackie has developed a distinct infill design or minar, which is informed by his family’s design and employs an inverted water pattern that is repeated across his works, giving a sense of the ebb and flow of the tides that inform his home environment.
Mackie is an expert in the use of kaidarral or hand colouring which he uses to great effect in his dramatic prints. This is evident in ‘The coming of Sigai’ 2013 where detailed colouring adds depth and dimension to the figurative elements that seem to emerge from the geometric linework. Sigai is one of four brothers who travelled from the north before memory and settled in the central and eastern Torres Strait, with Sigai holding responsibility for Yam Island. Mackie feels a particular responsibility to keep alive the knowledge of these brothers who are central to the identity of the Torres Strait, given he is currently the only practicing artist from Yam Island.
Art, Law and the natural environment are combined to dramatic effect in Mackie’s work and he is constantly expanding the possibilities of the print medium, as seen in his most recent work ‘The Githalai effect’ 2015. This four metre long work cascades off the wall, trailing on the ground to become a three dimensional form, overlaid with marine creatures. In combination, these creatures provide the form of an individual complete with headdresses and adornment for ceremony. ‘The Githalai effect’ 2015 was included in the 2015 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award and Mackie was also a finalist in 2013.


Place where the work was made

Cairns Queensland Australia



Media category


Materials used

vinylcut, hand-coloured




99.0 x 198.8 cm image; 120.2 x 215.3 cm sheet; 129.7 x 224.8 x 6.4 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r.corner, pencil "G Mackie/KEI KALAK". Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by Vicki Olsson 2015


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Glen Mackie

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history