Our first exhibition for the year celebrates the unique and dynamic tapa (bark cloth) art movement of the Ömie people of Papua New Guinea. Each piece is painted on the base tapa in many different coloured organic dyes made from leaves, seeds, bark, roots, sap and fruit, that are mixed with water and/or ash. They are iconographic and diverse, enlivening and transformative – simply exquisite.
The small remote Omie community lives high on the southern flank of PNG’s volcanic Mt Lamington (‘Huvaemo’) near Kokoda in Oro Province. Beaten bark cloth textiles – tapa (known as nioge by the Omie) is the primary artistic medium for Omie and fundamental to recording, preserving and expressing all aspects of Ömie cultural heritage. Although these days western-style clothing is used for everyday wear, nioge continue to be worn as skirts, shawls and loincloths for all dancing and singing, and ceremonial occasions.