Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that the following pages may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Syd Bruce Short Joe was born in the Aurukun mission 1964. His tribe is Wik Mynah tribe and his traditional country is North East and inland of Pormpuraaw. Syd’s traditional saltwater totem is the bull shark and his freshwater totem is blue tongue lizard. His people are freshwater people. The people from this part of Cape York often speak 4 to 6 Indigenous languages. Syd speaks 9 languages plus English.

He grew up in Pormpuraaw and learned the Thaayorre language of the traditional owners. As a teenager he lived among the Kugu, his great grandmother’s people, and learned those languages. He shares his knowledge with his nephews, family and community. He is a cultural scholar and a national treasure. Syd is the respected president of our management committee. He assists the magistrate by working as a volunteer interpreter and mediator. He is welcome at the campfires of many different tribes because he can speak their languages, and respects their laws.

Art is a new language for Syd, and he sees it as a way to share and express himself with a wider audience. His prints, paintings and ghost net sculptures celebrate his rich culture and personal wisdom, and tell the stories that inform his unique identity.

My art is a bridge from my people’s way to the outside world’.

Due to his printmaking ability, Syd is known as ‘Mr Lino’. He is also called the ‘General bull shark’ because of his leadership at Pormpuraaw Art Centre. He started at the Centre in 2010 and has produced a large volume of work. He has been the main inspiration for two books published at Pormpuraaw Art Centre, titled ‘Pormpuraaw Totems’ and ‘Pormpuraaw Art and Culture’.

His stories and work have been featured in two NITV shows, and his art is on permanent display at Canopy Art Centre in Cairns QLD, Tali Gallery, NSW, and Alcaston Galley, VIC. He exhibits at the annual Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

The Australia Museum in NSW has purchased his ghost net sculpture titled ‘Mundha’ (Shovel Nose Ray), and this work along with three others are being exhibited at the museum. Syd was the main consultant and storyteller for a documentary produced by the Museum which is based on crocodile sorcery.