My views on the role of the PNGAA
Old PNG friendships still relevant today

After the PNG 'sturm und drang' … art


John Pasquarelli’s been many things. Kiap, croc shooter, trader, Member of the first PNG House of Assembly, publican, self-described “maker of mayhem”, controversialist, and political adviser to Pauline Hanson. Now, at the age of 71, he’s an overnight success. As an artist. The paint-splattered clothes just give it away.

Overnight is not too much of an exaggeration. John has been painting just 18 months. When he gets round to sending PNG ATTITUDE a few samples that readers can't copy and hang on their walls, we’ll publish them. But in the meantime if you go to his website here, you can have the experience without waiting.

John’s father came from Northern Italy to Ingham before World War I and served in PNG in World War II. There he met Bill Dishon, who later recruited John as a pikinini kiap in Melbourne in 1959/60.

“After a lot of meandering,” John says, “I ended up here in Newstead, Central Victoria”. Many of the timber and stone structures still surviving in this region, and which have become a strong motif in much of John's painting, were built by Italians from Ticino near the Swiss border. This affinity, I am advised by John's website, inspired him to paint.

As the promotional blurb puts it: “Out of the Sturm und Drang of Pasquarelli’s past, a new and worthwhile field of endeavour has emerged. His paintings are striking and have the authority of a genuinely individual vision. Their mood is positive, as is his future as an artist.”

That’s the spin. But believe me, the products of this new Pasqua in his post modern persona as a man of art, are very pleasing to the spirit indeed.




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Gustavo Confalone


Gustavo Confalone, Napoli

Vorrei sapere se sei parente dell artista scultore Luigi Pasquarelli. In tal caso dovremmo essere parenti, in quanto lui era il padre di mia nonna paterna.

Translation - I would like to know if you are related to artist/ sculptor Luigi Pasquarelli. In this case we should be relatives, because he was the father of my paternal grandmother. KJ

John Pasquarelli

Luigi Pasquarelli came to Australia in 1909 from Northern Italy aged 40, as a fare paying passenger on a steamship. On the ship’s manifest he was described as ‘labourer.’

Landing at Sydney, he shipped north to the Queensland canefields and based himself at Ingham where he started work as a cane cutter. His wife Raimonda later joined him, accompanied by their two daughters and a son. He quickly established himself as a prodigious worker and became an independent contractor, making up to £2 a day when £2 was the weekly wage.

This entrepreneurial spirit attracted the wrath of the Labor Party’s Australian Worker’s Union and Luigi and others like him were hounded like dogs to prevent them getting to their places of work and violence was often used. This abhorrent behaviour was compounded by the AWU labelling the Italians as ‘black’ labour in the most racist of terms.

Tragedy struck the Pasquarellis twice when in 1920 their only Australian born child Palmo, of seven years, was killed by a taipan in the family vegetable garden and in 1927 wjen record floods wiped out their cane farm.

Refusing to lie down, Luigi and Raimonda scraped enough money together to send their son Guiseppe to Melbourne University where he studied medicine. I wonder if Mad Mark and the Labor Party will ever say sorry to the Pasquarellis of this world and, yes, Luigi was my paternal grandfather.

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