Sunday, July 3, 2011

Opening of Meralda Warren Exhibition

It was such a cold and blustery night last Tuesday however in the R.E.O. Café and Bookshop there was a wonderfully cheerful and warm atmosphere at the opening of the Exhibition of New Work by Pitcairn Islander, Meralda Warren. As Meralda’s many friends welcomed her back to Norfolk the room was filled with chat, laughter and overwhelming praise for her art work. 

 The exhibition which runs till Friday 8 July includes six of Meralda’s latest works. All are painted works on paper bark cloth or tapa that Meralda has made. The scenes depicted are all based on themes that come from Meralda’s Pitcairn Island home including whales, turtles, the Bounty and the island itself.

Meralda says: “The art of making Tapa was prohibited by the missionaries 75 years ago until the challenge of not losing that side of our heritage became too strong for me to let go. Discovering how to make Pitcairn Tapa Cloth in 2007, I was encouraged by the Ahu Sistas and my mum Mavis. I have gone forth to discover when to harvest the Aute plant. How to strip the outer bark from the inner fibrous paper mulberry bark using a sea shell. Soaking the bark in citrus juice instead of water to finally beating the bark out into a piece of workable beautiful cloth over a wooden log using a beater that I have carved out of wood called an Eeí. Once dried and I am satisfied with the texture, I seal the piece using Arrowroot cooked to the right consistency”.
Keepers of the Sea

The revival of tapa making by Meralda on Pitcairn is important. She is reviving a part of the culture that was considered to have been lost forever from the mid 1930’s. Tapa making provides one of the only means of understanding the lives of the Tahitian women who married the Bounty mutineers including their role in enabling early survival on Pitcairn. However not only has Meralda revived this lost skill and mastered it herself, she has been passing on that knowledge to the next generation of Pitcairn Islanders. Included in the exhibition are four works by Meralda’s grand nieces and nephews aged 9, 10 and 11. By teaching the children she is ensuring that the heritage of their foremothers will not be lost to future generations of Pitcairn Islanders. We are all enriched by that.

Amongst those who came to the opening it was especially good to see Alice Buffett who made a special effort to attend. What a treat, and thanks to Kath and Matt for making that possible. Please come down to the REO Café between 9.00am to 3.00pm from Monday to Friday 8th July to see this wonderful exhibition, it is well worth it. 
Bounty's Home

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