By DON WOTTON – Art curator
OVER the past three weeks an exhibition of contemporary artworks by the street artists of Port Moresby has delivered a great splash of colour and culture into the lives of many residents of Queensland whose travel plans have been thwarted by Covid-19 border closures and extended periods spent in home lockdowns.
Paradise Palette 2021, which ended on Nov 21 was the fifth annual exhibition of contemporary artworks by Port Moresby’s street artists to be curated by Don Wotton and hosted by the Royal Queensland Art Society (Brisbane Inc.) Petrie Terrace Gallery, Brisbane.
The popularity of the event among Australian artists, and which attracts many former PNG residents and ex-patriate families to the gallery, has grown exponentially since its inception in 2017 and enjoys the proud support of Brisbane City Council.
Of the 35 artists who participated in this years’ exhibition 24 sold one or more of their artworks. Among the popular artworks exhibited were paintings by Michael Mape, Willy Kauage, Peter Siune, Peter Wena and Apa Hugo. Artworks by Jane Wena, Rose Siune and Rose Kaipu, Robert Kua and Morgan Lavapo also drew praise by visitors to the gallery.
Repeat visitors to the exhibitions all commented on a maturation of style, technique, quality and subject matter among the exhibited artworks. Armchair travellers were guided on an epic journey across the land of the unexpected via the streets of Port Moresby, into the highlands and along the mighty Sepik River and islands through the expressive representations of landscape, culture, people, villages and wildlife captured on canvas by the many participating artists.
Putting this latest exhibition together was not without its challenges, especially given travel restrictions imposed by Covid-19 border closures. The Tumbuna Visual Arts Association on behalf of the street artists of Port Moresby is indebted to the support of Steven Enomb Kilanda, executive director, PNG National Cultural Commission, Hillary Miria, arts industry Manager, PNG National Cultural Commission and especially Councillor Daniel Lohia of Lahara Ward 6, Tubusereia Village, for his generous contribution enabling artworks to be freighted to Brisbane for exhibition.
With the further help of volunteer members of the RQAS, Paradise Palette 2021 opened to a capacity crowd and drew a steady stream of interested visitors to the gallery throughout the remainder of the event.
Paradise Palette is the only international event of its kind showcasing the artwork and talents of PNG street artists and is a springboard for promoting PNG tourism. Over the course of the past five years a strong rapport has been established between members of the RQAS and Port Moresby street artists.
Individuals interested in participating in, or sponsoring, future Paradise Palette exhibitions in Brisbane are invited to discuss opportunities with Hills Miria or Clement Koys, Tumbuna Visual Arts Association.