Teho Ropeyarn is an early mid-career artist and curator from the community of Injinoo, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. He currently lives and works in Cairns.
He is a descendant of the Seven Rivers Peoples of Angkamuthi and connected to the Yadhaykana clan group located on the West and East coasts of Northern Cape York Peninsula. Teho has extended heritage to Moa, Badu and Murray Island in the Torres Strait and Woppaburra – Great Keppel Island and the Batchulla people from Fraser Island.
Ropeyarn’s printmaking journey began in 2010 on his return to Injinoo after four years of study in Sydney. Teho has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of New South Wales – College of Fine Arts, Sydney. Although his major studies were in painting and drawing, Ropeyarn participated in elective classes such as printmaking and ceramics and since then, has been predominantly involved in printmaking.
Teho’s practice is focussed around his father’s people’s heritage. Having lived in Injinoo most of his life, he focuses on his Aboriginal heritage to keep what is left alive. The narratives in his works explore a number of traditional and historical stories: significant events and dreaming sights; totems; the four clan groups that make up the Injinoo peoples; country both land and sea and ceremonial body design elements encompassing spiritual connection to country and community.
Teho’s contemporary rhythm, patterns and imagery are not representational of the style of art belonging to his people (the Injinoo peoples) but are an impression of developing what is blurred through a contemporary approach by using elements from body markings to ascertain imagery from his region. Elements of the body markings are applied to the abdomen of the subjects used which adds to the imagery to connect his spirit to the work and to his people and country.
Teho’s focus is to preserve and document old stories and old knowledge passed down from Injinoo Elders. With permission from his Elders, the stories are recreated in a contemporary sense that directs Teho’s approach to contemporary imagery, symbols, imagination and metaphors.