Category Archives: Culture and Heritage

Stories about the arts, cultural projects, festivals, costumes, exhibitions, intangible skills

Island Woman – Watercolour and Gesso


Island Woman – Watercolour and Gesso

Experimenting with a watercolour – gesso combination, I painted “Island woman”. She reminds me of someone from my past in PNG New Guinea islands – maybe from New Britain or New Ireland.

Like other mediums, watercolour paints have names and pigment intensity. This Aussie Red-Gold (Daniel Smith) paint has to be my favorite, but I use Payne’s Grey in almost everything, so I had to prove to my students, I could easily divorce Payne’s Grey for another colour. I think it is a brilliant colour. I hope you like it too.

The Tranquility of New Ireland – Watercolour Story


The Tranquillity of New Ireland

In April 1990, several months after I was crowned Miss PNG (1989), the PNG Red Cross sent me on a national tour across Papua New Guinea. The tour was to promote the work of Red Cross in charity, disaster relief, blood transfusion services and youth growth and development programmes. This trip enabled me to learn new things, see new places and make many friends. It was a discovery of the magnitude of the work of Red Cross had done in the country and how many people dependent on these services. I was happy to be part of it all and be an ambassador for Red Cross. Unfortunately this privilege no longer exists in the quest due to lack of funding and the changes to the beauty pageant.

During my Red Cross travels, I also saw some of the most beautiful parts of PNG. Pictured is a small coastal village we passed during my tour of Kavieng, New Ireland Province. I took this picture of the house on the waterfront. A few days ago, I was delightfully surprised to find the picture (above) while going through some photos from 27 and 28 years ago. It brought back many memories of the wonderful time I had experienced.

Immediately, I had to paint this little house. The colours I chose reflect the glorious feeling I had during that time, while experiencing love and friendships; the tranquillity and wonders of my beloved PNG. I was very lucky to see a lot of the country during my reign.

I hope you like the images. Feel free to comment and share the tranquillity and beauty of this beautiful PNG Province.

 

 

 

 

Feather Challenge – Watercolour


Hi Tribalmystic friends and family,

I am painting more watercolours and that’s why I’ve been silent on this blog. It feels like I’m telling a story in a different way and this is very fulfilling. I have a few assignments to finish but I wanted to share one of these ‘stories’. Here I am working through an artwork of a young woman from Simbu, Papua New Guinea. I love her headdress and feathers.  Birds are interesting and amazing creatures, but when you paint so many bird feathers, it is quite challenging. And because I love lorikeets and have raised them – there  is the guilt …of the dead birds, but there’s another story – culture, nature conflict…

Anyway, I think I have almost got the Kina shells right, but the challenge of the feathers takes time. It also gives me more pleasure to learn and practice. Google Papua New Guinea culture if you want to see some real headdresses of fantastic colours, shapes and feathers.

I hope you like Meri Simbu II. I painted Meri Simbu the first six years ago and due to her popularity, it was no surprise when a client asked me for a new version. Meri Simbu II is about 800+mmx1200+ big, so I have to do small sections and pay attention to the details at the same time. The first Meri Simbu was no larger than an A4 paper size.

I will be back to stories soon. Thank you for continuing to visit the Tribalmystic blog and thank you to all those who have emailed personally me and for the birthday wishes for today.

 

 

Creating Culture Innovation In Indigenous Knowledge


In this Ted Talk, Terri Janke weaves her own personal story in with her reasons for ethical collaborations between Indigenous communities and researchers. Indigenous people hold knowledge that can be used for improving the planet and building sustainable economic opportunities. By engaging respectfully with Indigenous people, scientists and creative collaborators can potentially eradicate Indigenous people’s poverty, which stands at 15% of the world’s population.

Terri Janke was born in Cairns and has family connections to the Torres Strait Islands (Meriam) and Cape York (Wuthathi). She was awarded NAIDOC Person of the Year 2011, the Attorney General’s Indigenous Lawyer of the Year 2012, and was a finalist in the 2015 NSW Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

Natural Dyes and Processes – India’s Story


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Turban cloth – Victoria & Albert Museum ©

I was looking for various textiles that have been prepared by hand and I was particularly interested in natural dyes and its processes. I found this great article in Victoria and Albert Museum called “The Fabric of India: Nature & Making”. 

These are some of the short film clips and a paragraph on the dying process. If you are interested, read the full article on the museum’s website.

India’s natural dyes, especially those for blue and red, have been renowned for millennia. Blue dye was so closely associated with India that the ancient Greeks took its western name – indikos (indigo) – from the country itself. Red dyeing with fixing agents (mordants) was known to the Indus valley civilisation by about 2500 BC.

Fixing the colour is the great challenge of dyeing cloth. Indian dyers’ use of mordants was key to their expertise, which was unrivalled until the invention of western chemical dyes in the 19th century. It is this wealth and mastery of bright and lasting natural dyes that perhaps best distinguishes India’s textile heritage.

Why Pigs Dig for Worms – A Melanesian Myth from Fiji


A Melanesian Myth.

This story is from Myths & Legends of Fiji and Rotuma. A students’ Edition and a collection of stories and illustration by A.W Reed and Inez Hames.

This story was written as it would be told by an orator at the fireplace in Melanesian societies. So imagine you are sitting in a Melanesian village and an orator (usually a male) will be telling this story. I have added my own illustration below.

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JK.Leahy illustration: Pig

Vegetables cooked in earth oven (umuu or mumu) are fit for men and gods only when placed in baskets with succulent steaming meat, rich and layered with fat, (bel gris in Tok Pisin). Then a man may take taro, yam or greens in one hand and a piece of meat in the other, and  feast as though he were a god. In those days, the only challenge is to find an animal that can be steamed or roasted to provide enough meat for hungry men to eat. Man (as in human) decides, birds and rats are far too small.

“Let’s ask the gods”, man said.

Men gathered and started up the mountain to make their request to the gods. They were accompanied by fish, reptiles, animals, birds, and insects, all curious to hear the gods’ response.

The gods, who also love good food, were in good mood and welcomed the strange query from mankind. The gods inspected the gathering. Birds and other lives cowered and withdrew into the shadows so the gods would not see them nor pick them.

One of the gods reached out and caught a rat by the scruff of its neck and held it up. With arms and legs waving into empty air, a terrified rat cried: “Not me! Not me! Please not me! I am too small. I’m all bones and I taste horrible – please let me go!”

“Yes, the rat is too small – we need a larger animal” a man said.

“What about pig?” one of the gods suggested. “Now there’s a fine animal for you; rich and savoury.”

The pig was pulled before the gods by his short tail, and shivering before the gods, he squealed: “I’m too big! You could never fit me in one of your food basket.”

“Perhaps you are right Pig”, one of the gods said. “But you may be wrong”. Then the god instructed man: “Fill up a basket and put the pig on top so you can see what he looks like on top of the serving.”

The protesting pig was put into the basket. His legs fitted inside the basket comfortably, but his snout stuck out at one end and tail out the other end.

The pig gave a broad smile and said smugly to man: “What did I tell you?”

The rat who had escaped earlier, ran forward and quickly twisted the pig’s tail into a neat swirl and tucked it into the basket.

Pig still had a smile on his face. “You’ve got my tail, but you will never get my snout inside, it is too long.”

Worm rigged himself upright until he was balanced on his coiled tail.

“What is it Worm?” a god asked.

“Please, if we break the pig’s snout we could bend it up and then he should fit into the basket”, the worm said.

And that was what they did; which explains why Pig has a turned up nose and spends so much time digging up the ground in search of worms.

 

 

 

When languages die, ecosystems often die with them


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An Aboriginal performer in Sydney, Australia. Aboriginal languages in Australia are among the fastest-disappearing tongues in the world. Credit: David Gray/Reuters

You probably know that much of the world’s environment is under threat. But a new study says languages are disappearing alongside plants and animals.

The study, from the World Wildlife Fund, measured the threat to languages using a scale that tracks how threatened species are. Not only are many languages steadily losing speakers, says co-author Jonathan Loh, but “the rate of decline, globally, is actually very close to the rate of decline in populations of wild vertebrate species.”

There’s the obvious threat of in-demand languages, which many people start speaking more and more as the speakers of smaller languages dwindle. “Thousands of indigenous languages spoken around the world are being replaced by one of a dozen or so dominant world languages like English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese,” Loh says.

But Loh, who’s also a research associate at the Zoological Society of London, says that languages are dying off due to many of the same issues that plants and animals face.

Read more here.

 

Miss Pacific Islands, Papua New Guinea – Culturally Inspired


There are many aspects of the Miss Pacific Islands Pageant (PNG) that are worth writing. I wanted to share tonight two aspects that are very valuable; one is the culturally inspired dress and two, the education support it gives to PNG women.  

Here are some pictures from the crowing night of the Miss Pacific Islands PNG pageant. There is a pageant category called traditionally inspired dress. In these pictures, the six contestants wear their dresses inspired by their own tribal cultures. PNG has 22 provinces, over 800 languages with three official communication languages – English, Pidgin and Motu.

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Winner 2015, Abigail Havora – Miss Balanced Finance. Picture by Frankie Frank and Rocky Roe.

The Miss Pacific Islands Pageant Papua New Guinea’s motto is: Passion, Strength and Beauty.

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Mary Magdarline Konobo, 3rd Runner Up 2015. Miss PNG Air Services. Picture by Frankie Frank and Rocky Roe.
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Picture by Frankie Frank and Rocky Roe. Miss Dinoke Gonapa, Patron’s Choice, Miss Laguna.

The Miss PNG committee, while developing and moulding the young contestants to prepare for the final and then bring the winner to the regional Miss Pacific Pageant, this powerhouse team of women  raise money to educate young Papua New Guinean women.

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Takes Helen Vetali, 2nd Runner Up 2015 and sponsored by Italpreziosi South Pacific. Picture by Frankie Frank and Rocky Roe.

The process is that if any of the young women completing their tertiary education cannot finish their schooling because of financial reasons, this fund can help. Since its conception in 2010, the PNG committee has paid for 140 young PNG women to complete their tertiary education.

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Miss Shamila Paliwa, 1st Runner-up 2015. Sponsored by Garamut Enterprises. Picture by Frankie Frank and Rocky Roe.
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Miss Samantha Vulum sharing Patron’s Award 2015. Sponsored by Bank South Pacific. Picture by Frankie Frank and Rocky Roe.