PNG art exhibition woos Bristbane


Laben John Sakale, Gima Segore, Don Wotton, Curator, Albert Ipu and Derek Brown, Director, Department Foreign Affairs and Trade, QLD State Office.

THE recent exhibition of contemporary art by Port Moresby street artists in Brisbane exceeded all expectations.
It was curated by Don Wotton and local artists Albert Ipu and Gima Segore, and hosted by the Royal Queensland Art Society’ (Brisbane Branch) Petrie Terrace Gallery. The exhibition which was proudly supported by Brisbane City Council attracted over 200 visitors to the gallery on opening night.
Steven Enomb Kilanda, acting Executive Director and Percy Runawery, Second Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture attended on behalf of the PNG Consul in Brisbane with Percy Runawery delivering an opening night speech and welcoming visitors to the exhibition. Runawery’s speech was concluded by an impassioned  solo rendition of the PNG national anthem by visiting PNG artisan, Susan Werake, who delighted the crowd with her singing.
Visitors to the gallery included a number of former PNG citizens now resident in Queensland. Surprise visitors to the event were Jerry and Nohline L’Ecuyer from Los Angeles who flew in from California for the occasion, having generously supported the previous exhibition, Nuigini Brushstrokes in 2018. Jerry and Nohline were happily reunited at the gallery with Albert Ipu who they had last seen in 1993.
The exhibition which ran for three weeks in August-September showcased the work of 45 PNG artists and included a large display of tapa cloth from the Omie in Northern. Over K60,000 was taken in sales of artworks, tapa cloth and bilums during the course of the exhibition.
Demonstrations in bilum making by Rose Kaipu, Naomi Kerenga and Susan Werake proved popular with local residents and Brisbane tourists alike while Laben Sakale John helped draw more people into the gallery by undertaking painting on the footpath outside the gallery.  The exhibition also received wide promotion through the untiring efforts of Belinda McCartney of the PNGAA Association.
Peter Wena’s stunning masterpiece featuring a collection of several species of birds of paradise was the signature painting of the exhibition. Artworks by Elisabet Kauage, Apa Hugo and Harry Manavi proved especially popular among buyers while artworks by Clement Koys, John Bom, Kuiye Siune, Michael Mape, Rose Kaipu, Michael Haure and Andrew Kayanu also attracted considerable interest.
During their stay in Brisbane Albert and Laben visited the Margaret Olley and Ben Quilty exhibitions at the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) and an exhibition of historical political cartoons at the Queensland State Library, in addition to joining with RQAS members and other artists in life drawing and water colour classes.
A strong relationship has been built with PNG artists and the RQAS following the success of this latest exhibition which is helping to create new opportunities for PNG’s largely self-taught artists, including potential art-themed tourism ventures.
This is the third exhibition of contemporary PNG art to be curated by Don Wotton on behalf of Port Moresby’s street artists. The exhibition has greatly elevated interest in PNG contemporary arts in Australia, while also attracting interest from artists in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste and France.
A symposium, themed Art Nau was held at the Australian National University following the exhibition provided an opportunity for further discussion on how best to promote PNG arts and creative possibilities for PNG artists in-country and abroad. It was attended by Don Wotton, Hillary Miria, principal curator of contemporary arts at the National Museum and Art Gallery, Port Moresby, Ruth McDougall, curator of acific Arts, Goma, Dr Michael Mel, manager, Pacific Collections, Australian Museum, Sydney; Nicholas Garnier, head of Oceanic Collections, Musee du quad Branley, Paris and other leading curators of PNG art.
A new exhibition is scheduled for October 2020. Artists interested in participating in this event are invited to contact Hillary Miria at the National Museum and Art Gallery, Waigani.

Bundi gears up for food festival

ON Thursday, Oct 31, the Kumura Foundation executive team travelled to the remote Bongonogoi Village of Emigari, Bundi to meet with the locals and get an update of the ground preparations for the 2020 Bundi Komba Festival, which will be on the first week of April next year.
The team noticed that several new houses were erected, the festival ground dug up and expanded, and some parts of the 3km trek between Yandera and Emigari villages of Upper Bundi were cleared and maintained. Also, a fresh new and wider 1km trek was cut through a dense and pristine rainforest to avoid the slippery slopes and steep climbs before reaching Emigari as experienced by festival visitors in April this year.
While meeting with the locals, Tony Mangu, the ex-ward councillor of Emigari commented that “we really wanted the festival this time to be a bigger and better one. We have only five months left so we are working very hard, but we still lack the man power to get all the major ground preparations done on time.”
Hence, Guagu Joseph, the community liaisons officer of the foundation mobilized 30 young and agile men of Mendikara, Karizokara, Yandera and Kindagokevi villages of Upper Bundi to Emigari on Monday, Nov 4 to give a hand with the ground preparations of this major food culture festival in Bundi.
These 30 men will assist the locals in digging up and completing the expansion of the festival area, building the grandstand, cutting and fixing the 1km trek this week and will continue helping the locals of Emigari as needed until all the ground preparations for the festival are completed on time.
Komba (marita) is a very rare food culture of Bundi. The first ever Bundi Komba Festival was hosted on the first week of April this year. The event attracted 8 very diverse cultural groups from all over Bundi and over 1,000 people including guests from the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA), Divine Word University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Simbu Children Foundation, NBC Simbu, Simbu Bikers Association, a Kundiawa-based film crew Tekpiksapasifika and a PNG-based French Travel Company VoyagesenPapousie. The event injected a total of K36,000 into the northern corridor of Chimbu (Kundiawa-Gembogl and Bundi).
“Next year’s Bundi Komba Festival will be a bigger one as we are expecting 30 cultural groups from the three bordering provinces (Chmbu, Jiwaka, and Eastern Highlands),” commented Joseph. The festival will attract cultural groups from as far as Simbai, Jimi, the Ramu Valley, Asaro and several districts of Simbu. Bundi itself is a hub to amazing cultural diversity and is the home to exotic cultures such as the Bundi butterfly dancers, Wanamo dog dancers, Kumul dancers of Kogogopainime, Emigari Kanams, the burning head dancers of Karizokara and more.
The Bundi Komba Festival is a very rare food culture festival and is the first of its kind in the country. It is an initiative of Kumura Foundation, a local community-based organisation of Bundi under its sustainable development focus to keep the cultures of Bundi alive and promote sustainable tourism practices in Bundi, which occupies the central, most scenic part of the Bismarck Range.
“Tourism is about meeting the people where they are to really see and experience the unadulterated version of their unique cultures,” said Vincent Kumura, the director of Kumura Foundation.
“However, getting to Emigari for the Bundi Komba Festival is quite a challenge. The road conditions from Mondia Pass down to Yandera and across to Emigari, Bundi must be maintained” added Kumura.

Men building a track to the festival grounds

The Bundi Komba Festival is a recognised festival by the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA) who were the major sponsor of this year’s festival.
Bundi is located right at the foothills of Mt Wilhelm and is a beautiful strategic location for adventure and cultural tourists passing through the Chimbu-Madang gap.
“For next year’s and the subsequent festivals, we will need a proper water supply and medical dispensary at the festival site. Therefore, we are calling upon the responsible local, district and provincial government authorities and tourism and culture offices of both Madang and Chimbu to partner with the foundation in supporting this amazing food culture festival. The event will no doubt boost the image of tourism in both rovinces, hence the road conditions must be fixed on time before the festival,” urged Kumura.
The 2020 festival will be a three-day event that is expected to attract 30 cultural groups from four provinces and will cost over K100, 000 to host. The foundation and the people of Bundi are very thankful to the PNGTPA who gave K30,000 to this year’s Bundi Komba Festival.

  • Story and pictures courtesy of Kumura Foundation.