Moonbird boy, 2009 by Matthew Newton

image of Moonbird boy 2009 by Matthew Newton

Artist's statement

Indigenous Tasmanian poet Errol West wrote the poem The Moon Birds of Big Dog Island in the 1970s:

Like dust blown across the plain are the people of the Moon Bird.
And yet there is no one to teach me the songs
That bring the Moon Bird, the fish
Or any other thing that makes me what I am.

Mutton birds, also known as moonbirds, have been harvested by the Tasmanian Aboriginal people for hundreds of years. It is a time for the Aboriginal community to come together and connect with country. This portrait shows Shay Maynard carrying birds toward the processing hut on Big Dig Island in the Furneaux Group, Bass Strait.