The largest and most comprehensive exhibition about Fiji ever assembled, Fiji: Art & Life in the Pacific takes the visitor on a
journey through the art and cultural history of Fiji since the late 18th century.
The exhibition results from a three-year Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded project which examined the extensive but little-known Fijian collections in the UK and overseas, and uncovered some significant treasures.
Stunning sculptures, textiles, ceramics, and ivory and shell regalia are all on display. Over 270 works of art, including European paintings and historic photographs, have been loaned by exhibition partner the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology at Cambridge, and by the Fiji Museum, the British Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum (Oxford) and museums in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Exeter, London, Maidstone, as well as Dresden and Leipzig in Germany.
A highlight is a beautiful, specially commissioned, eight metre-long double-hulled sailing canoe that has been built in Fiji and shipped to Norwich for display. Made entirely of wood and coir cord, with no metal components, the canoe results from a project to encourage canoe-building skills and is a small version of the great 30-metre-long vessels of the 19th century, the biggest canoes ever built.
The exhibition also features a ceremonial whale tooth, or tabua, which was presented to Her Majesty The Queen on her first visit to Fiji in 1953. The Queen recently visited the exhibition and viewed the tabua.
Paintings, drawings and photographs of the 19th and 20th century provide context for the artworks. These include exquisite watercolours by the intrepid
Victorian travel writer and artist Constance Gordon Cumming, and by naval artist James Glen Wilson, who was in Fiji in the 1850s.
Picture: Barkcloth (Masi) wedding attire, Fiji, 2012. Sainsbury Research Unit, University of East Anglia.