Saturday, February 25, 2017

Art of Fiji at the Sainsbury Centre

All sailors must be impressed by the skills of the people of Micronesia,  Melanesia and Polynesia in crossing the vast Pacific. They combined expertise in boat building with navigation to cross literally thousands of miles of open water. The Marshall Islands chart was one of my highlights of the recent British Library map exhibition.

So I was intrigued to hear of an exhibition of "Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific" and, grabbing a book to read on the train, headed up to Norwich and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

Alas most of the exhibition was a no-photography zone apart from the two items at ground level, in particular the boat above and the matting below:
The exhibition notes said this about the boat:

A highlight is a beautiful, specially commissioned, eight metre-long double-hulled sailing canoe that has been built in Fiji and shipped to Norwich for display. Made entirely of wood and coir cord, with no metal components, the canoe results from a project to encourage canoe-building skills and is a small version of the great 30-metre-long vessels of the 19th century, the biggest canoes ever built.

You can see more of the exhibition in the video they produced by clicking here (they have switched off embedding). When I went there was no dancing, and I also missed the Queen who dropped in to have a look, arriving by helicopter from nearby Sandringham according to my taxi driver.

There was also a video that showed these outrigger sailing canoes racing in Suva harbour which was fascinating as they can sail in either direction so tacking / gybing involve moving the sail physically from one end of the boat to the other while the steering oar goes vice versa.

Very interesting and rather at treat to see all this art together given how away Fiji is from the UK.

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