Friday, January 13, 2017

No.1 Neighbour at QAGOMA

There was only one downside from checking out the show of Papuan art on at the Queensland Art Gallery when the Big Lamington was in Brisbane over summer.  And that was we might have seen our favourite show for 2017 by mid-January!!

Yes, that's right kids I loved it.  The show itself was a bit of a survey, with artists from the 1960's, through to today.  Of course, for those that came in late, Papua New Guinea was once a colony of Australia, getting its independence in 1975.  I grew up hearing fascinating stories of the country as my own father had spent some time working there in the '60s.  You enter through this great lobby with a painted longhouse ceiling (pictured bottom) before going through the different eras in a counter-clockwise direction.  I loved the naive / self-taught style of the art which matched the Tok Pisin (Pidgin English) titles - some examples include Simon Gende's "No 1 Kiap Blong Australia Mr Jim Taylor I brukim bush long Highlands Papua Niugini" (or The first Australian Officer Mr Jim Taylor, in an exploratory mission in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea) or Mathias Kauage's "Man draivim elikopta" (Man flying a helicopter).  I also loved the folk art where folks had used brightly coloured yarn in place of traditional fibres for bags (pictured below) and also incorporated art onto traditional shields (pictured top).  Quite a lot of commercial themes seeped into this folk art, whether tribes were outright sponsored by SP Lager or whether they just enjoyed it wasn't entirely clear.  A Big Lamington favourite, Eric Bridgeman also made an appearance (pictured above) with his group of wheelbarrow shields "Kuman Pawa" (shield power) which take this symbol of the Highland identity and manhood (the shields) and tweak it ever so slightly.  To me, this is contemporary art done well.  The sincerity of the work really shines through, never mind that they would also look absolutely fabulous in my tiki bar!

Points:  could be a first but the 3 goes to "Unidentified Artist" who did both the shields in the top photo (I am guessing that they are indeed separate artists but you get the point).  2 points to Eric Bridgeman, loved the upcycled shieldbarrows.  1 point to Sifas Morea for the Boroko Motors yarn bag (pictured above), turns out I am a sucker for naive product placement!  Highly commended to the folks who did the inside roof of the gallery, an amazing Tiki style extravaganza.