First Nations artist, a Iama man from Yam Island, Torres Straits, Queensland, Australia.
Tribe: Iama (Yam)
Language: Kala Lagaw
Totems: Hammerhead Shark (Kurrs)
and Crocodile (Koedal)
Glen Mackie, who is also known as Kei Kalak, has been at the forefront of the Torres Strait Islander print movement for decades.
Born in 1975 on Yam Island, Torres Strait, Glen now resides in Cairns, Far North QueenslandThe bold minar, or infill-design style in his work incorporates family totemic designs and his own invented geometric repeating water pattern. He retells the myths and legendary stories he inherited from older family members.
As one of Yam Island’s few practising artist he feels he has a responsibility to keep alive the sacred stories of the four brothers who travelled from the north before memory and settled Zenadh Kes, more commonly known as the Central and eastern Torres Strait Islands.
Learn more about Glen on Canopy Art's website
THE COLLAB #1
Glen has teamed up with Life Apparel Co through Canopy Art in 2020 to create this special edition artwork.
He is currently represented with one design in our retail collection.
Tradition & Knowledge (Lore)
Hand-drawn illustration on paper
This design is about the lore* of the land. The man with the eagle wings is the holy man. He is the teacher. He holds the lore and teaches the lore. The Rainbow Serpent created the land and animals, this is a common creation story used across the Australian mainland and islands by its indigenous people.
The man with the ‘Warup’ drum is teaching you about the southern cross constellation. As a Torres Strait Islander, my people call this constellation ‘Tagai’. It is a calendar for us, we still use it today passed down from generation to generation. It was verbally taught to us about the land and sea.
*The term 'lore' refers to the customs and stories the Aboriginal peoples learned from the Dreamtime. Aboriginal lore was passed on through the generations through songs, stories and dance and it governed all aspects of traditional life
THE COLLAB #2
Glen has teamed up with Life Apparel Co through Canopy Art in in 2018 to create this special edition artwork.
This collection has sold out.
Love Of Culture
Hand-drawn illustration on paper
The bold minar, or infill-design style in Glen’s work incorporates family totemic designs and his own invented geometric repeating water pattern.
He retells the myths and legendary stories he inherited from older family members.This artwork pays homage to women and represents the livelihood and sacred labour of Torres Strait Islander women, often carried out in a group.
The hair comb and Island mat represent the important bonds between the women.
The bridal pendant is made from the shell from the Hawksbill Turtle by the groom and is the equivalent of a wedding ring.
The garden stick and yam represent the time when women study the Tagai constellation in the sky at night to determine the best time to plant yam in time for the first rainy season.It is the job of the younger girls to always ensure the coconut water container is always kept full for the men to take with them when they go out in their boats to hunt for turtle and dugong. If the hunt is not successful, the women dig up the yam and taro from the garden and cook it ready to eat on the men’s return.
The garden food is a staple and a back-up.
The coconut scraper is used for scraping the white flesh from coconuts which the women use to make coconut milk and coconut oil for cooking and many other uses (eg hair treatments).
The three frangipani flowers signify marriage, widowhood, being single. Depending where the flower is placed on the head, it has different meanings: In the middle or back of head: a widow On the right: a single woman On the left: a married woman