Torres Strait Canoe 3D Animation Project (2012)

The splendour of 19th century double outrigger canoes from Torres Strait, measuring up to 21m in length, is known only through European drawings and paintings. Due to the high value and cultural importance of these huge vessels to Torres Strait Islander communities, no examples were available for collection and museum collections. Using archival records and canoe objects in museums (e.g. figureheads), this project brings to life the grandeur and sophistication of these vessels – the largest and most complex watercraft developed by Indigenous Australians. Over the past three years we have created a 3D animation of a generic Torres Strait canoe measuring 16m in length. This canoe moves across the sea with a crew of eight men, including six paddlers. Our next step is to create a vessel with the distinctive bow sails known for the region, along with elaborate and distinctive carved and painted hull decorations. Our final aim is to visit various Torres Strait Islander communities to discuss the possibility of co-developing 3D animations of island-specific canoes as known from archival records and oral histories.

For more information on this project, please contact Professor Ian J. McNiven.