Hanuabada Outskirts watercolour is completed. I have decided not to put in any more houses. It was interesting when painting and looking at the original reference picture below (taken by My Place Allen) that I discovered people inside some of the houses. Apart from the lady in the foreground, I captured a man sitting under the clothesline in the background, but I left out a few people in the middle houses. Yes…this could be a story.
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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.
This is a work in progress. Old man from Simbu, Papua New Guinea is a painting challenge to myself to paint larger (work) with better light and skin tone. I love the traditional dresses and particularly the headdresses from Simbu, a highlands province that is very rich in culture. I painted a young woman from Simbu a few years ago and was asked, why haven’t I painted a male from the same area. Good question. I had never thought of it. So I picked up the brush, filled the re-cycled jars with water…and, am still working on the old man from Simbu.
I found this exercise exhilarating because to get the painted black face separated from his normal brown skin and give him a background – all in dark colours was tricky. I hope you like him.
Is the word ‘sorceress’ or ‘sorcerer’ only used for the bad spells or bad medicine-making? Over to you first English speakers. Feel free to make your comments below. I had this word come up last September when I was applying for a PhD. My watercolour above is meant for good medicine. So, if you are facing some challenging times right now, I am sending you some good medicine and thoughts.
My mother and I made a list of many good indigenous or traditional medicine our people (the Bukawac-speakers) have used over the years. We both realised, a lot of the trees and special plants have been lost. To get some, our family and people have to purchase or travel to other parts of the province and sub-district to purchase or ‘borrow’ or get in exchange (barter-system) for other goods. Traditional healing using herbs and other good medicine (as I call it) is still a common practice in many parts of Papua New Guinea.
The crowning of the Hiri Hanenamo Queen is an annual event in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The contest is run to coincide with the PNG Independence celebrations. Above is my own interpretation of the queen. I enjoy this contest and the festival itself and am very proud of the Motuans for continuing to reinforce their heritage to their young women.
In 2016, Olive Tau was crowned as 2016 Miss Hiri Hanenamo Queen followed by her Runner- up Boni Bitu from Porebada village.
In third place and taking the Miss Hetura for 2016 was Maha Asi from Tubuserea village. See their pictures below courtesy of Loop PNG.
Hiri Trade – Adventure Kokoda
The Hiri Trade expedition was between the Motuan and the Erema (Gulf) people in the Gulf of Papua. This is a form of barter trade where the Motuans traded clay pots for sago with villagers along the Gulf coastline.
The Motuan (men) sailed westwards during the south-easterly winds known locally as the “Lahara winds”. After the trade, they returned when the winds changed eastwards. These winds are called the “Laurabada winds”.
According to oral history, the first sailing trip was led by an Edai Siabo of Boera village. Siabo was said to be inspired by a sea spirit after a fishing trip. With this inspiration, he and his henchman built a lagatoi (double hulled canoe) and made the first trip to the Gulf coastline.
This trip and subsequent trips were necessary because during these times there was usually drought along the Motuan coastline. Return trips brought a bountiful of sago to last throughout this drought. The actual trade would take only a few days however the return trip usually took place after 2 to 3 months.
During this long wait repairs are done on the canoes and relationships are strengthened among the traders. As a result of this long period of time away from home, it causes uncertainty back home – resulting in wives and partners of crew members re-marrying.
The return trips are usually arduous and dangerous as the wet winds brings with it storms. Lives are often lost also during these trips.
The last of such trading trips was in the late 1950’s where a Lagatoi sank just off the coast of Boera village. Several lives were lost in this mishap.
The colonial administration then banned trading trips as such. Today access to better transport system such as motor boats, airplanes and road links also contributed to the end of such trips.
What Hiri Hanenamo means. Hanenamo is a young woman who display the right attitude, manners and behaviour and whose character is respectful of the such title. She observes the rules, norms and laws of her society bringing happiness to her family.
It is from this original concept that the modern-day Hiri Hanenamo (Queen) competition is derived from. In fact the wife of the first Hiri pioneer Edai Siabo was the first Hiri Hanenamo for her display of commitment and dedication to the rituals vital to ensuring a successful Hiri Trading voyage.
Hiri Hanenamo is not attributed to beauty alone; beauty is only one aspect of being a Hiri queen. Elegance and grace in carrying out duties and performances are also considered. Approval and appraisal by village elders honour such a person.
Today many of these components of village life are taken into consideration by the judges during the Hiri Hanenamo Quest staged during the festivities.
A young girl is declared Hiri Hanenamo if she can display the appropriate traditional qualities to the judges. In addition, authentic tattoo designs, bodily decoration and ornaments according to the background of the woman’s village is also taken into accounts. Terminology: Hiri – Trading route and voyage taken by the Motuan sailors. Moale – Motuan word for celebration, happiness or joy Hanenamo – A young Motuan woman who abides by all customary expectations within the community she resides in.
My mother and I have been planting Kaukau or sweet potato cuttings. We hope, we will soon stop buying the good kaukau at Coles for $9 per kilogramme. The cheaper – $6 per kg kaukau, is tasteless, so we took the expensive one and tried to grow it.
It was natural to have kaukau on my mind when I painted my first watercolour this year. Women is Papua New Guinea, especially in the highlands, share kaukau cuttings and this is how they transport the leaves – in bilums. Sometimes they would be given the cuttings by friends and family members. Other times they bring the cuttings from the garden home to plant near their houses.
In fact, it weren’t for my mother being in Brisbane, I wouldn’t plant kaukau because it is too much work. The soil is too dry and if rain does grow the tuber; hare, possums, rats and who knows what else, eat the leaves. Often the animals dug for the tubers as well. This time we used bamboo stakes and placed a net around the garden. My mother was determined.
I had to give in to this planting, because my mother would not give up. And now, I’m glad I went along with her. We planted two species, one was our favourite Hawaiian kaukau from Coles. Another kaukau called wan mun (one month) was given to us by my friend Marina. That term wan mun meant literally in one month we would eat the tuber. That has not happened yet. I’m not surprised because the conditions here are tough.
We are still waiting for the one month kaukau to bear and it is now three months. The Hawaiian sweet potato is white skinned and purple inside. I chopped the tips off and grew them in a drum until the shoots were strong enough to transfer to the garden. It was a long process.
Unlike the women I had painted and their gardens, the kaukau in our garden seemed to take forever to grow. I remember growing it in the humid Lae (PNG) climate. Six months gone in Brisbane, and we now start to see the kaukau leaves spread and grow rapidly. I stuck my fingers under soil to see whether there were really any tubers – and there are. I was inspired to really bring these tubers to harvest. I will post some pictures here at harvest time. I don’t know when that is.
“We have to wait for a few more months”, my mother said. This was because, she said the hot summer and then hail storms last year killed off all the leaves and then the surviving tubers re-grew new shoots. We cut the stems and planted more. Now my son has this crazy idea we could build a larger garden to grow more. (I don’t think so...I muttered under my breath).
I hope you enjoy my watercolours and I will keep you posted on the sweet potatoes.
I love this old church. I tried out this watercolour subject for a local competition last May and was not satisfied so I abandoned the project. I found the unfinished pencil-drawn church and decided to go ahead and paint it. My son agreed with me that in my picture, the church looked awkward – so I will try painting it again one day. I hope you enjoy the study’s result.
The Brookfield Uniting Church’s history dates back to 1869 and forms part of a historical precinct. The church is now called the Pioneer Church. It was built in 1885 on a donated half-acre of land on Kenmore and Brookfield Road junction. In the mid 1900s the building was relocated to its present position in the showground precinct. The church can fit 70 people.
I am working free and lose again on my watercolour, after getting the work so tensed up. When I first learnt to paint in watercolour, I thought it was crazy. You had to work so quickly and once you’ve made a mistake, it was so hard to fix. In my earlier work, I painted loosely and simply. Then, painting in all mediums (Acrylics, oils, watercolour etc) at different times, I started to overwork the watercolour.
This shot is a little dark, but the artwork has only had three coats of paint so far. It gets exciting when it starts to come together. Let’s hope I don’t over do it again.