It is with great sadness that we mark the death of Billy Missi (Pal’n) who passed away on 22 December 2012.
Billy was an inaugural Director of Indigenous Art Code Limited where he joined the Board in 2010 as a valued representative of Indigenous artists.
Born in 1970 on Moa Island in the Torres Strait, Billy supported his family with crayfishing before taking up a career as an artist, and together with Denis Nona established the Mualgau Minnaral Art Centre in the Kubin Community on Moa. This innovative initiative was indicative of Billy’s interest in the business of art making. He was always keen to learn about art techniques and he also managed his own business affairs as an artist. This committed focus produced a career in the arts that included solo shows in Australia as well as international exposure in Europe, the USA and Asia and many works in public and private collections including the National Gallery of Australia. In 2012 he represented Australia’s Indigenous artists at the Australian Pavilion NAIDOC week celebrations at the Expo 2012, Yeosu Korea.
The traditional culture of the Torres Strait underpinned Billy’s view of the world. He celebrated that culture, promoted it and expressed his concerns for the preservation of ocean and coastal areas both through his artwork and in his energetic and generous contribution to the community as a teacher, a consultant and an advisor.
In his work for the Indigenous Art Code Billy was an articulate spokesperson for the rights of artists everywhere. He represented the Board in meetings and other functions across Australia and his speeches were always a testament to the value of artists in our society, the richness of our national culture and his commitment to fairness for all.
The Board of Indigenous Art Code expresses its deep sadness at his passing.