• Dianne White and Denis Fisk

    Dianne White and Denis Fisk

  • Colin Filer and Sakias Tameo

    Colin Filer and Sakias Tameo

  • Ross Dobson and Andrea Ho

    Ross Dobson and Andrea Ho

  • Director, PNG National Museum and Art Gallery Dr Michael Moutu, High Commissioner of PNG Charles Lepani and Head of the Board of Trustees of the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery, Julius Violaris

    Director, PNG National Museum and Art Gallery Dr Michael Moutu, High Commissioner of PNG Charles Lepani and Head of the Board of Trustees of the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery, Julius Violaris

  • JD Mittmann, Barry Craig, Pierre Laffont and Marina Garlick

    JD Mittmann, Barry Craig, Pierre Laffont and Marina Garlick

  • Margaret Cresswell and Elizabeth Tobler

    Margaret Cresswell and Elizabeth Tobler

  • Svetlana Sharapa Zazo and Teresa Zarlenga

    Svetlana Sharapa Zazo and Teresa Zarlenga

  • Evarne Coote, Deveni Temu and Eric Coote

    Evarne Coote, Deveni Temu and Eric Coote

  • Francis Bafmatuk with Patricia and Bill Sanders

    Francis Bafmatuk with Patricia and Bill Sanders

  • Brian Egloff, Joel Hamago and Lekiu Nindim

    Brian Egloff, Joel Hamago and Lekiu Nindim

  • Dr Andrew Moutu's crocodile pattern initiation decoration

    Dr Andrew Moutu's crocodile pattern initiation decoration

  • Dr Andrew Moutu disrobes for the photo of his traditional men's house at the NGA

    Dr Andrew Moutu disrobes for the photo of his traditional men's house at the NGA

  • Body art....trapunto style.

    Body art....trapunto style.

  • Dr Andrew Moutu with the NGA's precious  19th century 'Aripa'.

    Dr Andrew Moutu with the NGA's precious 19th century 'Aripa'.

  • Crispin Howarth, Dr Michael Moatu, Julius Violaris and Dr Gerard Vaughan

    Crispin Howarth, Dr Michael Moatu, Julius Violaris and Dr Gerard Vaughan

  • Craig Allen, Susie Campbell and Simon

    Craig Allen, Susie Campbell and Simon

  • Sewing detail of the Awan

    Sewing detail of the Awan

  • Gable mask for a ceremonial house

    Gable mask for a ceremonial house

  • Not happy........Tamasua a benevolent spirit.....

    Not happy........Tamasua a benevolent spirit.....

  • Ancestor Boards.....

    Ancestor Boards.....

  • Nimbero kandimbong .....an ancestor figure

    Nimbero kandimbong .....an ancestor figure

  • Intricate initiation markings, photo by EWP Chinnery 1925, in the NGA's Myth and Magic catalogue.

    Intricate initiation markings, photo by EWP Chinnery 1925, in the NGA's Myth and Magic catalogue.

Myths + Magic: Art of the Sepik River @ rhe NGA

6 August 2015

The official opening of the Australian National Gallery’s Myth + Magic, Art of the Sepik River is not so much a float down the river as an immersion in the art and artefacts of the villagers and the villages of an immense area that we really don’t know enough about.

And as it’s incumbent upon the Director of the NGA to spruik the catalogue of the current exhibition, Gerard Vaughan did that with aplomb, and I’ll happily endorse his effort as it’s a wonderful collection of photographs from early last century as well as a catalogue of the exhibition display. Among the photographs the most beautiful initiation body art of the ‘trapunto’ needlework kind. That’s for sewers the stuffing of small pockets between two fabric pieces to create a pattern. To explain the technique we had a rip off his shirt moment from the Director, PNG National Museum and Art Gallery Dr Andrew Moutu, happy to show us his crocodile pattered shoulder and back, and set a new benchmark for gallery directors.

Having lived in PNG and collected all manner of artefacts, to experience this exhibition is to again delve into the history and the unique art of the Sepik.To have an opportunity to see so many precious artefacts, most collected last century, and gain an insight into the culture, ceremonial and traditional aspects of life on and around the Sepik, is a chance to work together to preserve and protect this history.

Initiation body art unlikely to be on trend in the near future.