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12 June, 2022


A reflection of the sacred stories behind remote Papua New Guinean tapa art is available at the Court House Gallery for residents to enjoy.

Sihot’e Nioge installation at Cairns Museum. Image supplied

The exhibition, Sihot’e Nioge; When Skirts Become Artworks, features the tapa art of the Omie people from the remote mountains of Oro Province of Papua New Guinea. 

Tapa textiles are made from the inner bark of certain rainforest trees, then painted with unique patterns using natural dyes. 

Omie tapa is amongst the most distinctive of the diverse visual arts of Papua New Guinea. 

For centuries, they’ve been used as traditional attire for utilitarian and ceremonial use in dancing, singing and rituals, and gifts. 

Visitors to the Cairns Museum and its partner for this exhibition, The Court House Gallery, will learn about the creation story of the first tapa and how it helped form a community. 

Curator Joan Winter said this exhibition allowed Cairns residents to support Papua New Guinea artists. 

“The Tapa’s traditional use in a changing world is still essential for many ceremonial occasions and utilitarian needs,” Ms Winter said. 

“Its flexibility has propelled it into the international art market, and pieces are present in many public and private collections across Australia and internationally today. 

“Locals and visitors alike may not only discover their beauty but take home a unique piece created by artists from our nearest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, knowing they will be supporting artists who still live in extreme material poverty. 

Cairns Museum Executive Officer Fleur Anderson said Sihot’e Nioge highlighted the beauty of our neighbouring cultures and traditions. 

“It is a reminder to all of us of our nearest neighbours’ diverse cultures and artists,” Ms Anderson said. 

“We are looking forward to sharing this exhibition with the local PNG community in Cairns. 

“We are also excited to be partnering with the Court House Gallery for the first time.” 

People can enjoy the exhibition, Sihot’e Nigoe, at the Court House Gallery until June 25. 

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