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The art of West Papua at Alcheringa Gallery from March 12 to April 30, 2008.

The art of West Papua, has long been recognized for its brilliance of design and execution. Highly threatened by more than one colonial occupation, we celebrate with this exhibition the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

Alcheringa is honoured to present a superb collection of exquisite works gathered by Dr. John Moore over several years while he worked for the Eastern Indonesia University Development Project, run cooperatively between the universities of Simon Fraser in Canada and Cenderawasih (Bird of Paradise) in West Papua. Among the contemporary works featured in this exhibition are finely carved bowls, paddles and a remarkable selection of bark cloth paintings from Lake Sentani.


New Guinea has huge geographic diversity, ranging from lowland swampy rain forest, transected by meandering rivers, to a mountainous, cloud-shrouded central spine rising to over 5000m and harbouring the only remaining glaciers in equatorial Asia. The cultural diversity is just as great; of the ca 1,100 languages spoken in the island of New Guinea as a whole, at least 250 are indigenous to the region west of the Papua New Guinea border.

The cultures of New Guinea fall into two broad groups. Coastal and near-coastal peoples who derive their livelihood from the sea and depend on flour from the sago palm for thestarch in their diet while the highlanders' economy is dominated by pigs and sweet potatoes.

The Art of West Papua collection represents, albeit unevenly, the ethnic groups of western New Guinea--all lowlanders--who are most recognized to date as having a substantial artistic tradition. They are, from east to west, the Sentani and nearby North Coast groups ear Jayapura; the Asmat and Kamoro of the south coast between Agats and Timika; and the Biak-Yapen-Manokwan peoples, distributed around Cenderawasih Bay, that separates the "Bird's Head" from the rest of New Guinea. Each of the three groups has distinct styles of design, developed independently and reflecting distinctions in their culture and worldview.

Alcheringa Gallery

665 Fort StreetVictona, BC, Canada

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Publication:Tok Blong Pasifik
Date:Mar 22, 2008
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