Omie Barkcloth Art - Papua New Guinea
25 May– 11 July 2018
Omie Artists from Oro Province in Papua New Guinea produce traditional textiles called barkcloth which are decorated and painted with family and tribal designs. These barkcloths are used during important ceremonies and remain part of everyday life in the villages. There are twelve villages producing artworks for Omie Artists, and care is taken to ensure that protocols and laws around clan copyright are maintained.
The story of barkcloth is embedded in the creation story of Suja the first Ancestor woman, who beat the original barkcloth from natural bush fibres. Barkcloth is made from the inner bark layers of rain forest trees. The fibrous sheets are pounded on rocks using palm mallets, then folded and stretched to make the cloth. Natural dye colours are made from plants and applied with a bone needle.
Barkcloth has traditionally been made by village women and the women artists have now been making nioge, or fibre skirts to sell through their art co-operatives for the past 14 years. The income for artists assists the families to access essential services for their remote homeland communities. It also helps to buy tools. medicines, clothes and education materials.The Omie barkcloths are now represented in national and international collections.