BY PHIL FITZPATRICK
WHEN YOU TRAVEL around Papua New Guinea you come across art in unexpected places.
As you step off your aeroplane at Jacksons Airport and enter the terminal the art confronts you as murals above the stairs, continuing on along the walls in the custom’s hall.
Outside there are concrete reliefs holding up the veranda and across the way the hotels display it too.
The art, particularly the paintings, are an old tradition adapted to a new format which is both innovative and exciting and receives very little recognition outside PNG.
When we were casting about for images for the cover of Sil Bolkin’s new book The Flight of Galkope, which is set in the Simbu Province, Sil suggested we look at the art of Simon Tagai from Kundiawa’s Gembogl district.
Some of Simon’s work, called Simbu True Life Tales, adorns the walls of the Mt Wilhelm Tourist Hotel in downtown Kundiawa. Look at this wonderful impression here. And check out the website at www.mtwilhelmhotel.com.pg.
Simon attended the Creative Arts Faculty at the University of Papua New Guinea in the early 1990s but left in his third year when he ran out of money to pay his tuition fees. Since then he has been a freelance painter.
We reckon he’s in his late 30s but can’t ask him because he has just disappeared into the mountains with his brushes and palette.