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Reppie Orsto: Glider Possum

Reppie Orsto, Possom Glider

The Artist

Reppie  was born in 1959 on Nguiu, Bathurst Island.  He is a founding member of the Munupi Arts Centre and has been working there since 1985 producing intricate fabric designs. Her washes and linocuts have been exhibited widely in Australia and overseas. In 199, Reppie represented her community at the Munupi exhibition in Paris where she held painting demonstrations.

Sophisticated geometric design and meditative mark making, a balanced fusion of contemporary adaptation and classical tradition, and the strength of generations of culturally significant families underlie the Munupi Arts & Crafts Association. The art centre exemplifies what is unique about Tiwi life and culture: a distinct art style, a balance of male and female power and status, a variety of artistic skills: painting, weaving, craft, textile design, ceramics, sculpture, printmaking. The artists of Munupi are adept at all these forms of art.

Located in Pirlangimpi community on the large Melville Island, over the Aspley Straight from Darwin, Munupi Arts is now well into its third decade as a successful art centre. It has in recent years blossomed into a new life brought about through the art practice of older masters, bringing a renewed energy and traditional vigour to the art.

Possom Glider

The work of art

Possum Glider is one of 18 prints created in  1993 by Reppie Orsto. The work of art is typical of the Munupi Arts style using colourful geometrc designs in the creation of the image. An identical print is held by the National Gallery of Australia and is titled,  Jijinga.

There are 5 types of  possom gliders in the ACT and New South Wales. These are the feathertail,  greater,  squirrel, sugar and yellow bellied  gliders.

gliding possum has a 'gliding membrane' - a thin sheet of skin which stretches between its forepaws and its ankles.

When it leaps from a branch, its outspread limbs extend the membrane, allowing the animal to glide from tree to tree.

At first the leap is downwards, but as the animal increases speed, the angle of flight flattens out. With its long, well-furred tail acting as a rudder, the glider can steer towards its next tree.

Then, just before landing, it uses its tail to bring it into a 'nose up' position (much like an aircraft landing). Feet stretched out in front, it is ready to grasp the tree trunk and land.

The yellow-bellied glider can cover distances of up to 140 metres in one leap. The sugar glider and squirrel glider can reach about 50 metres.

Sugar glider