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The spectacular art of Bougainville’s Charleen Morris


One day into the next by Charleen MorrisCHARLEEN MORRIS WAS BORN IN Bougainville and has worked in graphic design and art for more than 20 years.

These days, when not travelling, she is a Brisbane-based painter, illustrator and art consultant. Charleen is also prominent in supporting charities through her art.

It happened to be the inimitable Leonard Roka who first drew my attention to Charleen’s work. And I was knocked out by it.

And I was also impressed by a bold idea she has for using art to assist the development of Bougainville.

Charleen Morris“I have always wanted to contribute some way to Bougainville, as an artist,” she told me, “but it was a question of how?

“It has been about timing and understanding how I could use my craft to make a small difference.

“After working with some charities here in Oz and abroad, seeing how it all works, I thought it was time to take it home to Bougainville.”

Charleen’s plan is to host an international art exhibition that will showcase Bougainville artists of all media together with some international artists to add further support.

“It’s quite a development process, maybe ambitious,” she says, “but nothing has ever stopped me from trying.

“I would be happy if we have just a small exhibition to start, but I figure, I may as well use what knowledge and contacts I have to carve the path as the journey carries me.”

Flower Box (Charleen Morris)Charleen says the outcome will showcase Bougainville arts, crafts and traditions and raise funds to support small community projects that will have immediate effect – like education materials for schools and supplies for aid posts.

She also wants to “demonstrate, inspire and create an avenue of income for local artists” and run art workshops for the community, “to bring unity, a sense of purpose and achievement through creativity, retaining traditional art forms and storytelling.”

It’s a visionary and progressive idea and I’m mulling over how PNG Attitude and I may be able to assist in a practical as well as a promotional way.

Meanwhile, you can catch more of Charleen’s splendid art here, here and here.


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Patrick Mallinson

I have a photo taken in 1965 at Tarlena Catholic School showing a young Bougainvillian girl painting a beautiful picture under the guidance of the nun. I don't know how to attach it here.

Unfortunately, Patrick, the Typepad platform we use does not permit photos to be inserted into comments. I will send you my email address separately as we will be able to include the photo in one of our artciles on Bougainville - KJ

Mrs Barbara Short

Wonderful art work, Charleen. Thanks Keith for the contact with the Bougainville Arts-Crafts, Artists, Traditional Cultures and Communities site.

I was able to watch the Bougainville bamboo band in Canberra at the Canberra Multicultural Festival, held earlier this year. Well worth watching!

I am sure if the Bougainville women had as much prominence as the men in the running of Bougainville, then the place would be a much happier place. Their traditional culture is full of great art work, music, craft work and dance.

Hopefully, when the Bougainville people get "balance" back into their lives, their culture thrives and they start thinking logically about all their problems.

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