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.
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.
Painting in negative first or negative painting was a skill I accidentally discovered when I painted this watercolour. It happened during my early years of painting watercolour in 2008. This work slowly took form as I tried to figure out how to leave almost half of the paper in white to reveal the pelicans. All I needed to do was give the birds the water and some background. YouTube makes it so easy these days. You can also learn to paint in the negative very quickly on Pinterest.
I gave this painting away as a gift to a dear friend, but it was an important work of technique discovery for me. It is also a study that I would like to paint again some day.
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.
I am back to the studies of the Bird of Paradise. It is one of my favourite birds. This bird is also the main feature in the national emblem of Papua New Guinea (PNG). I believe we still have 39 species left in PNG.
Initially I started this artwork with my garden plant dyes and then watercolour. I have since added diluted acrylic paint. When it is finished, I will post it here.
I have been writing less to allow my right arm and shoulder to heal. It seems to have taken forever.
With making artwork, I use different muscles and the work takes my mind of pain. I returned to some of my old paintings. These were mostly unfinished artwork, to see if I can finish some. Here is one of my work from 2014, “Liklik Meri” which means little girl in Papua New Guinea (PNG) pidgin. She is from the highlands. I enjoy painting our highlanders because they have gorgeous and colourful dresses. Often these traditional dresses are completed with absolutely stunning headdresses. (See my earlier post on head piece).
I should have taken a ‘before’ picture, but I didn’t. I began painting her six months ago with watercolours. I tried to keep the same medium but after working on the young lady for a few months now, I decided to use inks, mostly black ink pens for the outlines. I hope you like the end result.