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"Monuments to the South-West Waters of the Great Ocean" 2023

Wall text

Wall text

Christopher Bassi 

Born 1990, Brisbane, Turrbal and Yuggera Country. 

Meriam, Yupungathi and British. Lives and works in Brisbane, Turrbal and Yuggera Country. 

Pronouns: he/him


"Monuments to the South-West Waters of the Great Ocean" 2023


three in the series, oil on canvas  


Courtesy of the artist, and Yavuz Gallery, Sydney/Singapore.

The painting series Monuments to the South-West Waters of the Great Ocean is a delicate yet powerful tribute to Christopher Bassi’s matrilineal Meriam and Yupungathi heritage, the people of Mer (Murray Island) and the western Cape York Peninsula. Working in the style of representational painting, the abstractly composed seashell monuments in this series distil Bassi’s connection to his maternal home and to the wider Great Ocean through unbounded waters and marine life. Bassi’s Monuments rework mass-produced touristic souvenirs that are hollowly absent of the essence and lifeforce of their home waters. His series reclaims these handheld souvenirs as holders of the memory of oceans and their cosmologies, elevating their beauty and spirit in paint.  


Shells as currency represent complex social, kinship and relational networks across the Great Ocean and beyond. The shells in this series are representative of the artist’s relationship to his heritage through his mother and grandmother, capturing a deep love and sense of belonging to them and their home. Bassi’s memories of place are nourished by being in and near Great Ocean waters, analogous to Saltwater people's oceanic interconnectivity. 


In the Monuments, Bassi pays attention to the impermanence of shells, as temporary shelters of aquatic beings, contrasting these organic transient markers of refuge with the permanence of monuments, creating an intimate space of reflection and a site of refuge for introspection.  


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