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Gapu or suckerfish was once a main totem of a clan that has become extinct. It is now a subsidiary totem in some of the Maluligal (Western Torres Strait) communities. Greatly respected by the Islanders, and believed to possess significant powers, gapu were used widely to hunt turtle and dugong. They were kept captive for two or three days in a lagoon or in a boat half-filled with seawater until the turtle or dugong were seen. A rope made out of coconut fibres was tied to the tail of the suckerfish and then released into the water from a canoe where the hunters knew the animals were feeding. The suckerfish attached itself to the turtle or dugong, then towed the canoe until the animal weakened and was harpooned by the hunters.

This is an original, limited-edition linocut created by the artist on a lino block and printed by master printmakers David Jones and Tadeusz Jacek Rybinski on 350gsm Magnani archival paper.


  • Medium: linocut
  • Image size: 15cm x 30cm
  • Paper Size 40cm x 55cm
  • Edition size: 75


Torres Strait Island artist David Bosun is from the tribe of Wug on Moa Island and grew up in a very sensitive cultural environment. From the age of four he practised traditional dancing and singing. He first became interested in art in grade six after participating in an art class at school. David attended Thursday Island Secondary school and later moved to All Saints and St Gabriel’s Anglican college on the mainland. During high school, he was always in trouble for drawing in class instead of doing his work. In 1996, he took a visual arts course at the Tropical North Queensland Institute of TAFE. In 1997, when David returned to Moa Island, he met up with his childhood friend Dennis Nona and realised that the career he had been looking for was in fact what had always got him into trouble at school.

David believes that future generations in the Torres Strait and beyond need to be educated about the rich heritage and distinctiveness of Torres Strait culture. He is striving to record and illustrate his ancestral beliefs and traditions through the visual and performing arts. David has also been a member of the Royal Australian Army Reserve and is currently a Councillor with the Torres Strait Island Regional Council. He is a founding member of the Mualgau Mineral Artists Collective, which was very influential in popularising Torres Strait Islander art in Australia and internationally. David’s work can be seen at the National Gallery of Australia, Australian state art galleries and several important overseas art institutions.

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