New Ireland: Art of the South Pacific explores the extraordinary creativity that abounded in the region during the nineteenth century. The exhibition's most captivating works include beautifully made masks and stunning sculpture and represent New Ireland's 12 known independently created art traditions.
''New Ireland is best known for the malagan ritual traditions, which are practiced throughout the northern parts of the islands. This ancient custom, honoring the ancestors in a family's clan, uses carved and painted sculptures to illustrate relationships between the living and the dead. Isolated from mainstream trends, artists drew upon their inner resources and natural surroundings to create unique works of art representative of the human soul. -- Press release
The exhibition, curated by Michael Gunn (.pdf), associate curator of Oceanic art at the Saint Louis Art Museum, will be on display at the St. Louis Art Museum from October 15, 2006 through January 7, 2007, before going to the Musée du quai Branly, Paris ( April 2, 2007--July 8, 2007) and the Ethnologisches Museum, Berlin ( Aug. 10, 2007--Nov. 11, 2007).
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive catalog edited by Gunn and Philippe Peltier, with articles by noted scholars and published by 5 Continents, Milan. "The catalogue features the art objects shown in the exhibition and also includes field photographs from many of the twenty two regions of New Ireland." (Press release) [A copy of the catalog is on order for the Goldwater Library.]
top image: Uli Figure, 19th century or earlier; 21 1/16 x 4 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches; wood, paint, shell, resin, and rootlets; Gift of Morton D. May 61:1977