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Journeys : Aug Sep 2012
Destinations Ever y day for the past five weeks, the 36-year-old has come to this spot, armed with a vision to transform a previously nondescript laneway into an artistic masterpiece. One by one, the sea creatures seen vividly in his mind have slowly been immor talised on the giant 30-metre canvas, the single largest mural in Cairns. Wearing a casual ensemble of paint-spattered T-shirt and shorts, Glen tells me that this ocean of eye-catching dugongs, sharks and tribal totems represents stories of his indigenous people and his struggle to forge an art career when his family had other ideas. As the eldest boy of seven children, Glen’s father wanted him to take over the family business, a cor ner store and fishing venture in the Torres Strait. But instead he made the move from Yam Island (population 500) to Cairns, to further his passion for art, considering it his job to share the stories of his people. “My Dad made his mark in life and I want to do my own thing, go through life by myself,” explains Glen, who paints under his island name, Kei Kalak. He draws inspiration from stories told to him as a child. There was no TV so he’d pinch packets of biscuits from his father’s store and enjoy a cup of tea with his grandmother, listening intently while she recounted tales of myth and legend. The proud nanna Murals, music and mozzies Linda Smith encounters some of the surprises of Cairns With a few careful brushstrokes, Glen Mackie’s paint-stained hands sign the words ‘Kei Kalak’ across the boldly-decorated brick wall in front of him, signalling the completion of his latest artwork. shed tears at one of Glen’s exhibitions – she was thrilled to see her stories celebrated on the walls. His work is highly sought- after – he’s had to defer university studies to prepare for upcoming exhibitions. Cairns is widely-known as a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, but most travellers don’t realise that the seaside city of 160,000 residents has a vibrant arts scene. Above: Glen Mackie (Kei Kalak) and his artwork 18 August / September 2012
Jun Jul 2012
Oct Nov 2012