Australia looks at tapa



Australia’s Pacific heritage continues to grow. The exhibition Talking Tapa: Pasifika Bark Cloth in Queensland has been developed partly to reflect the large number of Pacific Islanders who have settled in Australia. The catalogue makes reference to the prevalence of Fijian weddings in Brisbane.



The exhibition contains Fijian wedding outfits, Papuan New Guinean ceremonial skirts and cloaks, large Tongan pieces, loincloths and headdresses from the Solomon Islands, bark cloth lengths from Erromongo and unusual tapa clothing from Wallis and Futuna.

According to the catalogue:

While most tapa is made from the inner bark (bast) of the paper mulberry tree, fig and breadfruit are also represented in this exhibition. The oldest bark cloth in the show is from Futuna Island and dates from the 1860s, whilst the latest was acquired in the Solomons in September 2008. Tapa decoration draws on clan and family patterning, the spirit world, the plant, bird, animal and fish kingdoms, abstract and geometric designs, as well as historical events and representations.



And here’s the itinerary:


  • USQ (Springfield, Ipswich) 12 Feb –19 March
  • Artspace Mackay 27 Mar – 10 May
  • Gladstone Regional Art Gallery 5 June – 11 July
  • Museum of Brisbane  24 July – 11 Oct
  • Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, 23 Oct – 6 Dec
  • Cairns Regional Gallery 11 Dec – 31 Jan 10


  • Monash Gallery of Art 10 Feb – 11 April
  • Ballarat Fine Art Gallery 17 April – 30 May
  • Mosman Art Gallery 5 June – 18 July
  • Manning Regional Gallery 23 July – 5 Sept
  • Taree
  • Bathurst Regional Gallery 15 Oct – 28 Nov


Turtle design solofua paper mulberry bast, candlenut soot 388 x 87cm (rolled to 160 x 87cm) On loan from the collection of University of Queensland Anthropology Museum

Fiji – I Sulu ni Vakamau Traditional woman’s wedding set; Three pieces made by Nainasa Kacimaiwai, Nayau Village, Lau Province, 2006; acquired from the makers at the Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival Fiji, 2006; Model Jimaima Taoi Le Grand dressed by Jiowana Dau Miles; Courtesy of Dr. Susan Cochrane and Jiowana Dau Miles

Wallis and Futuna Tepi mens skirt c 1995 made by Valelia Likuvalu from Nuku Village, Sigave, Futuna; decorated bark cloth, natural fibres and dyes 112 x 205cm, acquired from the maker at the Wallis and Futuna Annual Fair, Noumea, New Caledonia, August 1996; On loan from the collection of Susan Cochrane

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