Words by Dani Coombes
Joel Sam, an accomplished contemporary Indigenous artist, is firmly rooted in his Torres Strait Island heritage and calls Gimuy/Cairns his home. Hailing from Saibai Island and later settling in Bamaga, Joel's artistic journey began when he completed a Diploma of Art from North QLD’s TAFE. Joel's artistic focus centres on linocut prints, serving as a powerful medium through which he showcases his cultural inspiration and brings to life the captivating sea creatures that inhabit the Torres Strait region.
At the heart of Joel's creative expression lies a profound connection to Torres Strait Island culture and the cherished narratives passed down through generations of his family. With printmaking and sculpture as his chosen forms of artistic exploration, he delves deep into these cultural ties, skillfully incorporating traditional clan Minarel patterns into his works. Umai (dog), Koedal (crocodile), Baydham (shark), Waru (turtle), and Samu (cassowary) intertwine within his creations, forming a tapestry of symbols that convey the rich complexities of his Saibai Island heritage. Through this artistic process, Joel adeptly weaves together a visual language that resonates with both his personal experiences and the broader cultural landscape.
Joel's captivating artworks have found their place in exhibitions hosted by KickArts in Gimuy/Cairns, where his talent shines alongside other accomplished artists. Notably, his collaborations with Djumbunji Press have enabled the precise and exquisite printing of his creations, ensuring that every linocut carries the essence of his artistic vision.
With each stroke of his tools and each carefully carved line, Joel Sam infuses his artwork with a profound sense of cultural identity and a deep connection to the stunning marine life that graces the Torres Strait region.
Joel’s artistic journey serves as a testament to the power of art in preserving and celebrating Indigenous heritage, while simultaneously captivating audiences with its beauty and storytelling. Joel's contributions to the artistic realm continue to inspire and enrich the cultural landscape of both the Torres Strait Islands and the broader artistic community.
To view the stunning array of designs created by Joel Sam and other Indigenous artists, visit our website https://bwtribal.com/