At Norfolk Island Museum - Royal Engineers Office, Kingston 28 June 2011
Meralda Warren has become Pitcairn Island’s most original artist. In 2007 Meralda decided to learn and revive the art of tapa making there and exhibited for the first time in 2008 in Tahiti during the Tahiti Bounty Day festivities and here on Norfolk Island in 2009 with the ‘Ahu Sistas Jean Clarkson, Sue Pearson and Pauline Reynolds. Since then she has developed her practice even further and her tapa paintings are now held in collections all over the world.
Her latest tapa paintings were recently on display at the Te Papa Museum Maori and Pacific Textiles Symposium where she was the keynote speaker along with Pauline Reynolds. They were also exhibited at the British High Commissioner’s Residence during a Showcase Event built around Meralda’s presence in Wellington. This event focused on a ‘Positive Pitcairn’ and many of New Zealand’s important tourism movers and shakers were present. Norfolk Island Museum is delighted to host Meralda’s new works with an opening this Tuesday.
You may wonder why we called this blog 'Tattoo and Tapa'. Tihoti's passion is design using the ancient symbols used by his tupuna or ancestors. Mine is the same, but applied on a different surface.
The designs used by Tahitians in 'tatau' (tattoo) often crossed over into the designs used in 'ahu (tapa) decoration. Some of the deep symbolism used in tatau today in Tahiti is lost, although Tihoti feels that by using nature as our inspiration we can come to understand these designs again, and from there evolve those designs beyond our misunderstandings. But that understanding has to come from a Polynesian perspective.
I am fascinated by the designs and colours used in the ancient 'ahu - everything was symbolic. Much of this knowledge is forgotten today: but not entirely. For me it has become an exhilarating adventure of rediscovery.