Movie: Ghost Net Art: Sea Blanket

Maryann Bourne and Emma Gela visited the Australian Museum in February 2013. They were able to share with us the story of their Sea Blanket, a work made by several artists from Darnley Island.


© Australian Museum, Maryann Bourne and Emma Gela
Finton Mahony
Maryann Bourne and Emma Gela


Hello. My name is Maryann Bourne and I am an artist from Erub Erwer Meta, and I come from Darnley Island in the Torres Strait and, I’d like to talk about this Sea Blanket that we’ve made. This is to represent us all land, sea and sky. When we first started making it, we put it on a frame kind of thing, and stitched the ghost net onto it, and then make the design and stitch over the rope and that to get shape and everything done. And this sea blanket represent, like a patchwork blanket that our mothers used to do. Long time ago they get together, the ladies, and they do patchwork blanket because it’s hard for us to get sheets and that. They get little piece of rag and join it together to make a blanket so we can sleep on it and everything. So now we decided the artists, all our ladies, we do a Sea Blanket so we don’t waste no rope, no net that destroy marine life on the reef at Darnley.

This is a mask made by Ella Savage, Rose Savage, and this is a reef from Sedey Stephen, of Mer. This is a booby bird from Racy Pitt, and this is my work, Maori Wrasse, and that’s mussel shell, akul shell we call it, from Florence Gutchen. And this is Emma’s work, Emma Gela, it’s a totem as she will talk about it.

My name is Emma Gela, I’m an artist from Erub Erwer Meta, Darnley Island, and it’s mine here and I want to talk about it. Its parrot fish, its my totem. It’s Kar in my language. That’s where we do all of our, that’s where I do my totem, and all the other ladies are doing their totems. Like in the old days, my mother, she’s a patchwork maker. It's hard to get sheet and blankets up on that shop and she’d do all the patchwork, like, for me. That’s where I’ve grown up with the patchwork, and blankets, she made it for me to cover, cover up at night. And I’ll be lying bits about. Some of the patchwork from when the (...) ladies, when they get together they’ll end with much baskets, fans and all these things from pandanus leaf.

And this is a ring tide. When its high tide on the island, when its low and then the tide come in on the reef, the tides go around and if you fish off the reef or in the dinghy, you see the ring tide, which remind you that its high tide, the tides coming in towards the shore. That’s, we call a ring tide. Both ring tides, by Nancy Nawwi.

It’s made out of ghost net. The ghost net the ranger picked up from the reef, which destroy our marine life, we recycle the stuff because it destroy our fish, turtle, and the rope we use that too, and we take it and make sea blanket, baskets, you name it, you know.

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