Kokwam – Exotic bloom 1

Brian Robinson
Kokwam – Exotic bloom 1, 2018
Palight plastic, enamel spray paint and timber dowel, 84.5 x 90 x 22.5cm


Plant life, particularly flowering plants promote serenity, beauty and spiritual wellbeing. For many people, being in nature and interacting with the natural world, brings a sense of peace, tranquility, and feelings of connectedness – with self, others and a higher power.

The Exotic bloom series looks at flowering plants found through Torres Strait. Land cultivation and gardening was one of the pivotal daily activities across the region as it provided a staple food source [apart from fish and shellfish] for each community as well as the provision of vibrantly coloured garlands that adorned feasting tables and mats.

Foods often cultivated were bananas, coconuts, cassava, taro and other types of yams. Apart from these, a variety of natural fruits and some wild yams were gathered in the bush, a task carried out by women and children. With the arrival of missionaries came new species of plants and flowers such as the frangipanis, which was considered by Islanders to be a sacred plant.

Collectively, these blooms are called Apa Kausal, which are words spoken in the traditional Torres Strait dialect of Kala Lagaw Ya, the language of the Western Islanders. When translated into English it means Garden of flowers.

Photo: Michael Marzik.