By Moya Nina Iowa
Having a unique talent is a blessing for many who use these skills to make a living.
Thomas Umba from Gembogl in Chimbu lives in Morata Two and makes his living from paintings. He is a self-taught painter, having been inspired by renowned PNG painter, the late Mathias Kawage.
Umba said he first started commercial painting in 2013 and that has been his only source of income since he arrived in Port Moresby from his home province.
Umba said he never held a formal job such as a security guard or shop assistant, but instead utilised his talent to earn money as it was easier for him to paint and it was something he enjoyed.
“Instead of seeking formal employment, I decided to paint as with formal employment, workers wait for two weeks before getting paid. I love painting and I am able to earn money every day by selling my paintings.”
Umba said painting was a unique way of capturing and recording PNG’s diverse cultures for people from overseas to see and for the future generation.
“Our traditions are dying with the old people and the younger generation is at risk of losing this culture and identity forever. I paint so that these traditions can be recorded and also these are the sorts of paintings that tourists find most fascinating.”
Umba is very passionate about his paintings and often focuses on painting PNG’s landscapes and flora and fauna. His brother, Takai Nen, focuses on face painting.
Umba’s paintings range in price, depending on size of the canvas, time taken, the subject painted and includes miscellaneous costs such as his paints and brushes.
Prices range from K200 to K1500. Other commissioned paintings may cost more.
Umba often sells his paintings alongside other artists in front of the Holiday Inn Hotel. He, however, wants the new government to provide a proper market venue for painters and other artisans where they can safely sell their wares.
“Roadside selling is not safe for us and sometimes we lose our goods when it rains. Most times we sit in the sun with no shade and no toilets when we need to relieve ourselves.
“I also call on the Government to find buyers online as well to help us sell more of our products.
“Not only are we going to make an income but we also help promote PNG too.”
By Moya Nina Iowa