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Sihotie, Nioge: new from old :: Omie Tapa Art PNG
6 Feb - 28 Mar 2021
Gallery 3

The Omie people number about 2000. They live on the remote slopes of Mts Lamington and Obo, Oro Province, PNG, not far from Kokoda. They are little known in PNG and the outside world despite their unique and prolific tapa painting tradition. Tapa, beaten bark cloth, is made from the inner bark or bast of the paper mulberry tree and various types of figs.   

Omie artists look deep into the natural wonders of their mountain rainforest domain when painting the minutia of their world in fish and pig bones, tusks, teeth, eggs of the dwarf cassowary, grubs, caterpillars and others, the habits of plants, unfurling ferns, designs in bark, the prominence of the hornbill bird through the constant repetition of their beaks as a leitmotif (leading motif) throughout their tapa. Their mountains being the second leitmotif.

There is an endless range of natural colours made from the leaves, bark, roots, seeds and fruits around them. This along with their ever-changing design innovation, the use of grid lines and repetitive patterning, gives their tapa a contemporary aesthetic making their painted, beaten bark cloth remarkable amongst the Pacific nations on Australia’s doorstep. 
 

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