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Sea of Thorny Fruits | Jumaadi

by beth sorensen

Indonesian-Australian artist Jumaadi and his collaborators revisit an ancient technique for storytelling, the shadow play. Five artists, two projectors and an assortment of traditional gamelan and contemporary musical instruments come together in this intense but humorous new theatrical work.

Using beautifully crafted cut-outs made of paper, buffalo hide and cardboard, Jumaadi explores the relationship between humans and the sea. Sea of Thorny Fruits focuses on the history of the Java Strait, in which ships from across the world enter and exit carrying goods, food, masters and slaves and their stories, joy and grief.

The Strait played host to Lt James Cook, who sailed from Australia towards England when his ship was damaged on the Great Barrier Reef and needed restoration in Batavia in Java. Many of Cook’s crew died there, supposedly due to malaria and dysentery, including the artist and navigator from Tahiti, Tupaia.​

Delivered with immense skill and precision, Sea of Thorny Fruits uses rhythms and silhouettes to explore the connection between humans and the ocean from pre-European colonial times to our present day.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.

Sea of Thorny Fruits is part of Terra inFirma: Sovereignty and Memory exhibition.

Creative team

Jumaadi: Artist, creative director
Michael Toisuta: Composer, sound and music maker
Deva Permana: Composer, sound and music maker
Julia Westwood: Shadow maker
Mayumi Nagata: Shadow maker

Proudly funded by the NSW Government in association with Blacktown City Council and Blacktown Arts.