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The Art of West Papua
From the Moore Collection

Alcheringa Gallery
Victoria BC – Mar 12-Apr 23, 2008

Bark cloth Painting with Fish Spirit Design

Bark cloth Painting with Fish Spirit Design (1995), Vin Kreu (Nafri, North Coast, Western New Guinea), bark cloth and paint [Alcheringa Gallery, Victoria BC, Mar 12-Apr 23]

Art of West Papua is a group showing of contemporary works collected by Vancouver professor Dr. John Moore between 1990-97 while he worked for the Eastern Indonesia University Development Project. The exhibit includes finely carved bowls, paddles and a remarkable selection of bark cloth paintings from Lake Sentani.

The collection represents several ethnic groups of western New Guinea: the Sentani and North Coast groups near Jayapura; the Asmat and Kamoro of the south coast between Agats and Timika; and the Biak-Yapen-Manokwari peoples, distributed around Cenderawasih Bay. Each group has a unique style of design that has developed independently and reflects distinctions in cultures and world views.

The tribespeople of West Papua live in an area of lush lowland rain forests and glacier-capped peaks on the western side of the Island of New Guinea, now knoiwn as Wet Papua, populated by strange marsupials such as wallabies, tree kangaroos, cus-cus and spiny anteaters. Music, a vital part of their culture, is played on guitars, ukuleles, string bass and traditional hourglass-shaped drums. At least 250 languages are indigenous to the region west of the Indonesia/Papua New Guinea border. A revival of traditional designs on bark cloth as well as carved items took place in the early 1990s through the initiative of several local artists. Many everyday objects like food dishes, canoes and adze handles, as well as ceremonial items such as drums and staffs, are now decorated with designs that reflect life in the lowlands by the sea.


Mia Johnson

 Wed, Apr 2, 2008