Courtesans of the Tamaya House screen painting

Image reproduced by permission of the artist on behalf of the Rebecca Hossack Gallery (2012)

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Not currently on display

Department of Africa, Oceania
and the Americas 

Object details

Height: 12 cm
Width: 29 cm
Museum number: 2011,2017.1

Purchased from the Rebecca Hossack Gallery in February 2011

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Ghost net basket

Moa, Torres Strait Islands, Australia, 2010-11

Indigenous Australians have been making baskets out of local, organic resources for more than 50,000 years. More recently new materials such as wool and raffia have been used as well as traditional fibres. Since early this century, women in northern Australia have been utilising washed up synthetic fishing nets in their fibre craft.

Discarded fishing nets are regularly cut loose from commercial vessels in the seas around South East Asia and drift randomly in the Pacific ocean, catching fish for nobody. They float towards Australia during the monsoon season from November to March and collect around the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Torres Strait Islands, mainly between May and September.

Since 2004, a project in the Gulf of Carpentaria has encouraged women to scour the beaches and make baskets using materials from these ‘ghost nets’.

In 2010 a Ghost Net workshop was held at St Pauls on Moa Island, Torres Strait, hosted by the artist Angela Torenbeek, who made this basket.

Workshops have now been held at a number of places in the Torres Strait Islands, and ghost net baskets are now being exhibited in galleries around Australia and further afield.

Explore more



L. Bolton, Baskets and belonging: indigenous Australian histories (London, The British Museum Press, 2011)

L. Hamby, Containers of power: women with clever hands (Richmond, Victoria: Utber & Patullo, 2010)

M. West (ed.), Recoil: change and exchange in coiled fibre art (Darwin, N.T.: Artback Northern Territory Arts Touring, 2007)

Ghost nets Australia