Maketi Ples takes Pacific Art to Australia

Contemporary Bilum work from Papua New Guinea will be featured in the sixth annual Maketi Ples, on this week at Shapiro Gallery, Sydney.

Maketi Ples was established in 2011 by Pacific Islands Trade and Invest to introduce a wide range of contemporary and traditional Pacific Islands works of art to an Australian audience of consumers, designers, retailers and importers

Since then, Maketi Ples has become the premier event for contemporary Pacific Islands-based artisans. Over 140 artists and creators have exhibited during this time, bringing their work to the attention of Australian buyers.

“By investing resources in the creative arts sector, we are helping to place a commercial value on the traditional knowledge and cultural expressions of Pacific Islands communities such as PNG’s Bilum weavers,” said PT&I’s Trade Commissioner Caleb Jarvis.

This years’ exhibition features some of the most exciting contemporary visual art, textiles and artisan works, with a strong representation of women from around the region. Work is drawn from 23 communities and individuals representing nine Pacific island countries covering Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

Bilum work exhibited at Maketi Ples comes from communities in Omie, Giluwe, Hagen and Telefomin, and features work from the Pacific’s most famous Bilum designer, Florence Jaukae Kamel.

“I’ve been exhibiting my work at Maketi Ples for 6 years,” said Ms Kamel, “and I’ve benefitted from the support provided by Pacific Islands Trade and Invest’s Creative Arts Program.

Florence’s works are now on the walls of leading international galleries including the Australian National Museum in Sydney, and she has travelled as far as London and New York to collaborate with final year fashion students and encourage the incorporation of artisan work in mainstream fashion collections.

Maketi Ples has been made possible with the support of the Australian Government.

“The empowerment of women and girls is a key priority for Australia's foreign trade and aid agenda in the Pacific Islands,” said Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Australia.

“Australia is pleased to be supporting Pacific Islands Trade and Invest to help women use their traditional skills to benefit from the global economy.”

“Our aid program is increasingly seeking out innovative private sector partnerships like this, which bring sustainable livelihoods to some of the remotest communities in the Pacific.”

The Pacific Islands Trade and Invest offices of the Pacific Islands Forum develop and promote Pacific Islands export, investment, tourism and creative arts across international markets. The network has offices in Auckland, Beijing, Geneva, Sydney and Tokyo.

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