Spotlight on Bilum at Maketi Ples 2013


<p style="text-align: justify;">Maketi Ples 2013 gets under way in Sydney on February 20. This is the third year that the event showcasing Pacific art and craft, which is progressively gaining a bigger profile in art circles in the region, is being held. <!--more--></p>

[caption id="attachment_4394" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Bilum bags from Papua New Guinea"]<a href=""><img class="size-full wp-image-4394" title="Billum-lrg" src="" alt="" width="200" height="269" /></a>[/caption]
<p style="text-align: justify;">An initiative of Pacific Islands Trade &amp; Invest – the trade and investment arm of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat – the show will run for three weeks, as it did in the two previous years. In the two previous years, Maketi Ples has resulted in some encouraging sales, bringing much needed financial reward as well as becoming a tremendous morale booster for artists around the region.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This year’s event trains the spotlight on the Papua New Guniean art of weaving Bilum – a bag made from dried fibre extracted from tree bark, animal fur, sisal or vine – which has been passed down for centuries from one generation of women to the next. Traditionally, Bilum bags were used to carry babies, food or tools, and to this day, traditional weaving techniques are still used to make Bilum bags.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Styles and patterns of bilum vary from province to province and are representative of the creative expression of the weaver. In this time of greater mobility by air and land and sea, there is a new fusion of patterns, materials and techniques emerging in bilum work.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Maketi Ples 2013 will showcase the work of two groups of Bilum artisans – Goroka Bilum Weavers Co-operative, a collective of female weavers from Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province and Ömie Artists, a cooperative of artists from the eastern mountains of Oro Province.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">It is encouraging to note that the art is flourishing and evolving in PNG. In this time of greater mobility by air and land and sea, there is a new fusion of patterns, materials and techniques emerging in Bilum work. As the art of Bilum is being reinterpreted by a new generation of creators, materials such as wool and synthetic fibres have been introduced into the Bilum making process.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">With the recent emergence of artisan collectives in PNG, this vibrant art form has developed into an important source of revenue for the women of PNG. Through their efforts, there is increasing international interest in Bilum work, which is now being recognised by some of Australasia’s most prestigious museums and galleries. Weaving Bilum is a skill that an extremely large number of women in PNG share and is a skill that can benefit their families, communities and therefore the entire region financially.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This year’s Maketi Ples will help a number of bilum weavers and artists to interact firsthand with people from Australia’s art circles, art gallery visitors and the Australian media to share the finer points of their art and craft.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Works from the Goroka Bilum Weavers Co-operative and Ömie Artists will be available from 21st February to Sunday 10th March 2013 at Maketi Ples, Global Gallery, 5, Comber Street, Paddington NSW, Australia.</p>
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