Alick Tipoti

Inquiry questions

  • Spend time looking at the materials in this work. Why do you think the artist has chosen them?  
  • How do artists communicate layers of meaning in their work? 


Alick Tipoti is of the Kala Lagaw Ya people from Badhu (Mulgrave Island), Zendath Kes (Torres Strait). Tipoti has produced an extensive body of work living and working in his hometown, Badhu. As a saltwater person and practicing artist, Tipoti’s practice explores the interconnected relationship between life on the land, the sea and the sky’ through print mediainstallation, sculpture and performance. Tipoti has said: “My totem is the crocodile, so I am the crocodile, My wind is the North-West wind, so I am the North-West wind, My constellation is the Shark star, so I am the shark star.”  

Tipoti has six artworks exhibited in The National 2021. Dhangal Madhubal consists of three large-scale forms of the dhangal (dugong) made from fiberglass resin, rope, and acrylic paint. The sculptures are informed by the complex relationships between hunters, dhangal and certain phases of the moon. 

Creative learning activity

You will need:

  • Balloons 
  • Cardboard 
  • Chicken wire 
  • Newspaper 
  • Masking tape 
  • Flour 
  • Water 
  • Pencils 
  • Paint 
  • Coloured paper 


  1. Research an animal that is connected to your daily life. Consider both domestic animals and wildlife.
  2. Observe this animal and its daily habits. What time of day does it sleep, burrow or feed?
  3. Compile a profile of your chosen animal. How does it move? What does it sound like? What kind of personality does it have?
  4. Focus on the animal’s physical characteristics or movements and its relationship to place. Consider the features that make this animal special to you.
  5. Collect information and imagery about the animal’s habitat or environment.
  6. Begin planning a series of three-dimensional objects that tell a story about your chosen animal. You can do this by drawing or making small models.
  7. Plan how each object will connect or relate to the other.
  8. Begin making papier-mâché forms by creating a scaffold or base using chicken wire or balloons and masking tape.
  9. You will need to prepare an adhesive mixture of flour and water, before adding the papier-mâché.
  10. Once finished, start to apply layers of papier-mâché using strips of wet newspaper and the adhesive.
  11. Now set the base aside to dry.
  12. After the base form has dried, you can add colour, texture, and surface qualities. Consider how the materials or colours you use demonstrate the narrative you are trying to tell.
  13. When you have finished all three forms, spend time arranging them in a way that communicates the story you are sharing. 


  • Research Alick Tipoti’s art practice. Consider the connections drawn between animals, storytelling, and place within Zendath Kes (Torres Strait Islander) culture. Now consider how you might further extend on or emphasise similar connections within your own work. 
  • Document an animal over an extended period, such as a week or fortnight. Use this documentation to create a performance. 
  • Compare the ways Alick Tipoti connects cultural narratives through lino printsthree-dimensional works, and dance. 


  • Has observing the activity or movement of an animal changed your relationship with it? 
  • Have you become more aware of your local environment?