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Teddy Balangu: Carver-in-Residence

Alcheringa Gallery, Victoria
& Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver
through October

Teddy Balangu carving in Palembei

Teddy Balangu carving in Palembei, Papua New Guinea [He will be carver-in-residence at the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, weekdays through Oct and at Alcheringa Gallery, Victoria BC, on weekends starting Sept 9 through Oct]

Teddy Balangu is an Iatmul artist from Palembei Village in the Middle Sepik region of Papua New Guinea. Originally trained in a traditional apprenticeship, he is now 45 years old and part of a large family of artists.

He is particularly renowned for his contemporary interpretations of graceful and complex roof finials. In 1995, Balangu was one of twelve carvers selected to spend six months in residence at Stanford University. Along with other Sepik artists, he helped create a group of monumental works known as the New Guinea Sculpture Garden.

As the recipient of the Andrew Fellowship, Balangu currently is a carver-in-residence at the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia. He is creating a house post, part of a monumental sculpture of up to 30 intricately carved posts supporting a spirit house for the Museum’s Oceanic collection. Balangu’s post tells the stories of his Sepik River clan and their mythical ancestor Twatmeri, who originally created the clan and who on occasion transforms into a snake.

Every weekend, starting Sept 9 through to the end of October, Balangu will be carving at Victoria’s Alcheringa Gallery, where his work has been exhibited since the early 1990s. An exhibition, Rhythms of the Garamut, of major works by Teddy Balangu and his Sepik River colleagues, also featuring works by Salish artist John Marston will open on Nov. 5. A documentary film, Killer Whale and Crocodile, records the meeting of these artists from two of the great carving cultures of the world.

Mia Johnson

 Sun, Sep 3, 2006