Sharon Phineasa is of Torres Strait Islander heritage with ancestral connnections to Saibai & Dauan Islands in the Torres Strait. She is a decendant of the Ait Koedal (Crocodile) and Dhoeybaw (Wild Yam) Clans.
"Being a descendant of the Ait-Koedal (Crocodile) and Dhoeybaw (Wild Yam) clans of Saibai Island in the Top Western Torres Straits, ignites within me a deep, endless sense of love and respect for my tribal ancestry and cultural heritage. This drives me to create works of art that is the preservation of these important aspects of my ancestral heritage.
I was born and raised in Brisbane (my father being European) however, because my mother’s strong ties to her Island home, she felt duty bound to teach her children to learn and appreciate family history, cultural heritage and traditions. For these main reasons, my mother would often take us back to the Islands to experience and gain this essential part of our Torres Strait Islander identity.
I speak three languages:
Kalaw Kawaw Ya - (Dialect of the Top Western Torres Strait Island group)
Torres Strait Creole - (Broken English)
Growing up in both cultures has had a strong influence in my artistic creativity. The source of my inspiration would be the Kulba Adithil (old stories) of myths and legends passed on to me by Island Elders, especially by my Grandfather on Dauan Island who carved traditional artefacts.
Childhood experiences on the islands have also provided me with stories to draw upon. I feel a great responsibility to pass on the knowledge and stories that have been passed on to me, through artistic expression and on many occasions I have felt a strong connection to my ancestors as I have told their stories through this means.
On the other hand, the advantage also of being raised “down south” is where the contemporary style influences my art.
The colourful island surroundings, the blues and greens of the ever-changing colour of the sea and the rich colour of the earth where I grew up, have become the palette from which I paint and draw upon for colour inspiration.
The vibrant Hibiscus (Kukuwam) and frangipani flowers are also a major focus in my work as it is symbolic of the blossomig into womanhood, growth , beauty....and is an important element of adorment of women in the Torres Strait.
I also enjoy using many natural materials in my collage work eg. Cowrie shells, island mats woven from coconut/pandanus leaves, various traditional beads such as the Matchbox Bean (known to Islanders as “"kulap”" )
Over the years as I reflect on time spent sitting and listening to my Grandparents stories and the invaluable life experiences gained...these have made a deeply profound impression on me. They have laid the foundation of the individual I am today as a Torres Strait Island woman and especially as a Torres Strait Islander artist.
I am very passionate about preserving culture through artistic expression.
Again, it ignites within me a strong continual desire to honour the memory of my ancestors. I have been blessed to do so in my own special way. And although my artwork is a fusion of traditional and contemporary influences, I do strive to maintain my own individual style and originality.
Through doing so, I hope to be able to reflect another unique facet of Torres Strait Islander art.
The ancestors have been gone for many generations, however, through the means of storytelling and other important means of preservation (in my case)– through artistic expression, their voices continue to speak forth from the dust - Bringing to our remembrance the rich culture, heritage and invaluable teachings they have left for generations to take heed to and follow..."
" I am deeply passionate about preserving culture through artistic expression.
I have been blessed to do so in my own special way...
Although my artwork is a fusion of traditional and contemporary influences, I do strive to maintain my own individual style and originality.
Through doing so, I hope to be able to reflect another unique facet of Torres Strait Islander art "...