Friday, 31 August 2012


This set of three silk paintings, introduced in my previous post, was created as a tribute to the seven Pacific Voyager vaka or double hulled sailing canoes, which have just completed an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean.

"Journey of the Vaka I"  
"Journey of the Vaka II"   

"Journey of the Vaka III"

The vaka project has seen indigenous people from island nations across the Pacific collaborate to revive traditional navigation methods, while spawning new interest in the preservation of cultural practices and respect for our ocean environment.   Using the power of wind and sun to sail through the Pacific archipelagos and across to North America and back, our vaka sailing crews have become local heroes – bringing marine conservation, and pride in traditional customs, into the headlines of our mainstream media, and into the conversations of island people across all generational and cultural divides.

“Journey of the Vaka” features key navigational methods used by our voyaging ancestors – and by the vaka crews of today:  Charting the stars, observing the positions of sun and moon, noting the direction of prevailing winds, currents, and swells...  Watching for significant cloud formations, reading clues in the presence of plant debris floating by, observing the flight paths of birds and migration patterns of ocean wildlife, while drawing on the vast knowledge and guidance of sea-faring elders; all this coupled with the self-reliance and survival skills still found in many of Fiji’s outer islands were the forerunners of modern day GPS in the Pacific...

A humpback whale with calf swim through the middle painting—the patterns created by spectrographs of their haunting songs forming part of my design.  The effect that the increasing noise pollution in our oceans has on whales and other wildlife was one of the issues highlighted in the Pacific Voyagers environmental campaign.

And what of the small family in “Journey of the Vaka I”? Will they be torn apart by the call of the ocean?  What will the future hold for the child of the Pacific, nestled in the arms of a mother who tries instinctively to shield it from the winds of change blowing through all our lives....

Spread across the three paintings are the forms of seven vaka, their twin, triangular sails filled with wind.  Six of the canoes, each representing a specific island nation, have rust-coloured sails, while the sails of the seventh vessel, with its international, pan-Pacific crew, are white.  By portraying the forces of nature with dynamic movement of shape and line, I have tried to reflect both the vulnerability of the vaka, and their sense of purpose as they spread their uniquely Pacific message of ocean conservation to the rest of the world. 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Some shots of my latest painting in the making...

With the triptych you see evolving here, I continue to explore a theme inspired by the Pacific Voyagers vaka project - a fleet of seven double-hulled canoes representing various Pacific island nations, creating history this past year by sailing across the Pacific using wind and solar power.  While their adventures have revived an interest in ancient Pacific navigation methods, visits by the resilient vaka crews have touched the lives of many islanders, sparking a new awareness about ocean conservation and pride in our local cultures.

My silk paintings always start out with pencil sketches on paper, which eventually become the ink-line masters drawings that will be traced onto white silk. 
I will have to paint lots more kasaqa (frigate birds) before I can get them out of my system!  As they do not have water-resistant oil protecting their feathers and can therefore not fly far from dry land, these wonderful seabirds, with their jagged wings and forked tails, signify to the sea-weary sailor that solid ground is not far away... 

My master-drawing has been transferred onto the silk, and outlined in metallic-gold resist.  Now comes the fun part- applying the dyes!  Here, color is added to the twin sails of my vaka fleet.

The middle of three paintings evolves, late one night when the rest of our busy household is asleep, and the only noise is from my radio, as BBC World Service broadcasts bring me up to date with news from other corners of the planet!

"Journey of the Vaka III" takes shape: a reflection of the age-old navigation methods used by Pacific sailors...

Floating vegetation was amongst the many navigational cues used by our Pacific ancestors,  who would note the direction it came from and the condition it was in as a way of envisioning what lay beyond the horizon...

A mother and child feature in "Journey of the Vaka I".
Yes, I know, the colors I use can be somewhat unorthodox!

Nearby, my late night studio companion lends his moral support to the "Journey of the Vaka" triptych project - KitKat does not realize that we spent several hours washing and cleaning these pieces of  masi vula (white barkcloth) earlier today!

Sneak preview of the finished pieces - more to come on my next blog!

Saturday, 11 August 2012


Sigavou Studios has just been accredited as a licensed producer with the new “Fijian Made” and “Buy Fijian” campaign launched by the Ministry of Industry and Trade here in Fiji.  We are now authorised to display the official “Fijian Made” logo on all art and craft we produce, supporting the move to promote local productivity and reduce the flood of imports into our small island nation.

My son Eremasi and I were amongst twenty four certificate recipients who attended an official “Fijian Made” function in our capital city last month.  Here’s the group, with a collective display of products made by the companies that were represented.  Spot the Sigavou Studios artwork in the foreground!