Pictures, Patterns and Objects: Rock-Art of the Torres Strait Islands, Northeastern Australia


This series showcases innovative research in Indigenous studies, history and culture. Thematically, it profiles ways in which settler society and Indigenous cultures have intersected, clashed, melded and meshed. Each book emerges out of research conducted in close collaboration and partnership with Indigenous people and communities. The series is geographically confined to Oceania. It is wide-ranging in subject-matter, yet it has a distinct focus on cross-cultural dialogues. Its intention is to illustrate the comparative and contrasting elements of Indigenous and settler histories. It represents an important intellectual shift towards research that includes Indigenous perspectives, involvement and tradition. Liam M. Brady is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies, Monash University and an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Western Australia. The Torres Strait islands have historically been geographically divided into three main island groups: Western, Central, and Eastern. The earliest documented record of rock-art in the region was from A.C. Haddon in 1888. Positioned at one of anthropology's most significant boundaries - the divide between the hunter-gatherer realm of Aboriginal Australia and horticulturalists from Melanesia - the Torres Strait Islands and their indigenous inhabitants have fascinated scientists for well over a century. Despite early endeavors in the region, a key challenge for archaeologists and anthropologists today is to understand the nature of the strait: was it a bridge or barrier to cultural and linguistic diffusion? Picture, Patterns adn Objects explores the rich yet relatively unknown rock-art of the Torres Strait to investigate Islander artistic expression as an indicator of social interaction. Working in partnership with local Islander and Aboriginal communities, this richly illustrated study employs digital technology to recover rapidly fading rock paintings - many of which are no longer visible to the naked eye - and sets a new benchmark for the way rock-art is recorded. Drawing on a range of comparative forms of decorative media collected from across Torres Strait, Papau New Ginea, and northeastern Australia, Brady examines the distribution of design form recorded on fixed and portable mediums to gain insight into artistic interactionacross the region. He outline how Islander and Aboriginal artistic expressionis part of a much broader regional sphere that traverses significant social and linguistic boundaries, and argues that patterns of interaction across hunter-gatherer and horticultural peoples are much more extensive than previously thought.

Cite this Record

Pictures, Patterns and Objects: Rock-Art of the Torres Strait Islands, Northeastern Australia. ( tDAR id: 366794) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8XS5WTT

Spatial Coverage

min long: 141.064; min lat: -11.222 ; max long: 144.426; max lat: -7.471 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Principal Investigator(s): Liam Brady

Record Identifiers

isbn(s): 9781921875069

Resources Inside this Project (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

There are 11 Documents within this Project [remove this filter]


  1. Rock Paintings of Badu (2010)
  2. Rock Paintings of Dauan (2010)
  3. Rock Paintings of Iama (2010)
  4. Rock Paintings of Kirriri (2010)
  5. Rock Paintings of Mua (2010)
  6. Rock Paintings of Muralag (2010)
  7. Rock Paintings of Ngiangu (2010)
  8. Rock Paintings of Pulu (2010)
  9. Rock Paintings of Somerset (2010)
  10. Rock Paintings of Zurath (2010)
  11. Rock-Art of the Torres Strait Islands, Northeastern Australia (2010)