Showcasing ambitious work from across the Pacific, Wansolwara: One Salt Water at UNSW Galleries celebrates work from over 20 artists, writers, performers and filmmakers connected by the water.
Wansolwara means ‘one ocean, one people’ in the Solomon Islands pijin dialect. It reflects a connected waterscape which brings communities and culture together.
The exhibition draws on connections of language, tradition and history in a series of workshop performances, exhibitions and events. It brings together creative artists to explore and celebrate bodies of work, tracing connections to the Pacific through language, tradition, dance and ceremony.
Artist Ruha Fifita, born in Tonga and based in Brisbane, has two large-scale ngatu (painted bark cloth tapestries) in the exhibition. Working closely with her siblings and extended family, Ruha’s works signify stories of Pacific culture, ceremony and community life, while also honouring intergenerational learning.
“[Lototō1 – 2016] came from a lot of research and interviews with community leaders and cultural leaders, and also environmentalists and people involved in the tourism industry,” Ms Fifita says. “Embedded within that is a lot of reflection on those concepts, where it has many layers of meaning behind each work.”
She says Koe Ngoue Manongi – 2019 is a reflection on conversations with her grandma.
“It means if you are something that grows towards the light, there will be a flourishing,” she says. “The title, Koe Ngoue Manongi is like a fragrant garden. It’s this idea that you are in a process, and if you aim your goals high and you make the effort, the outcome will be one that's useful to the world.”
Artist Shivanjani Lal is an Australian artist and curator of Fijian Indian background. Her work explores the servant labour diaspora of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the histories that brought her family from India to Fiji, and now to Australia.
Her work presents a selection of new photography and video works made during recent trips to Fiji.
“I've been thinking a lot about storytelling as a methodology to share knowledge,” Ms Lal says. “For me some of these stories were things that I had to find for myself. Some of these stories are things that my mum told me incidentally - some of these are sort of stories of me trying to archive time.”
“The reason that the show is called ‘Beta, ek story bathao’ is because it's that questioning of somebody wanting to tell a story, but also in that act of storytelling. It has the capacity to be retold and remade, and I think that's quite interesting.”
Wansolwara: One Salt Water is presented in partnership with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and in association with Sydney Festival 2020.
WHEN: 17 January – 18 April 2020
Where: UNSW Galleries & 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
ʻO le ūa na fua mai Manuʻa
17 January – 18 April 2020 | Oxford Gallery
OFO HAKE: Koe Ngatu Teuteu 'o 'Akesa mo 'Isileli Fifita
17 January – 18 April 2020 | Nick Waterlow Gallery
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
17 January – 29 March 2020