Celebrating the diverse vibrancy of indigenous customs at the 7th Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival 

The One Ocean Hub is partnering with the Vanuatu Cultural Centre to showcase the unique heritage of artists, performers and cultural practitioners in Melanesia, and promote regional cooperation and advance mutual respect. The Hub will present the exhibition Undercurrents: Art and Ocean in Melanesia at the 7th Melanesian Arts and Culture Festival in Port Vila, Vanuatu, 19 – 31 July 2023, which celebrates the diverse vibrancy of Indigenous customs and traditions specific to Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Caledonia, West Papua and the Torres Strait Islands.   

The exhibition, curated by Dr Lisa McDonald (The Glasgow School of Art, UK), is being held at the National Library and Archives of Vanuatu, and brings together artistic outputs from the Hub’s three Pacific DEEP Fund projects.   Discussing the exhibition, Lisa notes, ‘the Festival is an important opportunity to share with a large local audience, including government officials and policy-makers,  the murals from Our Ocean Our Identity, wearable art from Through the Ocean’s Lens and illustrated book pages from Netai en Namou Toc / Stories of Mother Ocean. Presenting these artworks highlights the imperative of Indigenous knowledge to policies for sustainable ocean governance.’ 

The Erromango Cultural Association and Alvaro Sumaki Kuautonga, based in Port Vila, will be joined by Pax Jakupa from Papua New Guinea and Lloyd Newton, Julie Pelomo and Hilleina Hilly from Solomon Islands. With Lisa, they will co-present a conference paper reflecting on the innovations of exhibition and the underlying partnerships, at the Festival’s Symposium being hosted by the National University of Vanuatu.   

Artwork: Ava Nautong