Nationwide art comp announced

The Grass Skirt Project has announced an innovative new art-for-development initiative that will combine sport and culture to engage the wider PNG population in healthy preventative outlets.

Commencing on June 1, 2019, the Timothy Akis & Georgina Beier National Art Prize is a nationwide art competition for all Papua New Guineans that aims to harness the power of art as a therapeutic device, a tool for cultural preservation and an instrument from which to effect real social change in PNG.

The Prize is named after the first contemporary Papua New Guinean Artist, the late Timothy Akis, and the woman who developed his artistic talents, Georgina Beier, now 81 and living in New South Wales.

“Papua New Guinea was a great adventure for me,” said Beier. “Developing an artist is triggering the nerve end and providing the tools to release the flight of creativity. Papua New Guineans have always had wonderful art deeply embedded in their lives.

“Colonialism cut some of this, now it is important for the same artistic authenticity to be expressed in their lives today. This prize will encourage the true voice of Papua New Guinean artists. It is a great joy to again connect with Akis and his family in the naming of this prize.”

Grass Skirt Project has partnered with 10 artists from all around Papua New Guinea to assist in the delivery of the National Art Prize including Joe Nalo, Manfred Wkeng Aseng, Jane Wena, Jeffry Feeger, Clement Koys, Pax Jakupa Jr, Lesley Wengembo, Nanias Maira, Laben Sakale John and Albert Joseph. Also advocating for the National Art Prize are PNG’s first metal sculpturist and Georgina Beier protégé, Ruki Fame and the father of PNG street art, Gigs Wena.

Founder of the Grass Skirt Project, Tahina Booth, hopes to create a stronger platform that will inspire and unite the people of Papua New Guinea.

“I’m looking forward to giving all Papua New Guineans the chance to be recognised for their artistic abilities and seeing the artworks become the team jersey designs for the Hevea Cup in 2020,” said Booth.

Grass Skirt Project and 2019 partnering artists have created digital workshops for the public to use to inform and inspire their own entries. These workshops, artists’ profiles and submission guidelines will be available on the Grass Skirt Project Facebook, Instagram and website from June 1.

“This initiative will create opportunities for people around PNG especially artists who need to come alive and be recognised,” said celebrated artist and lecturer, Joe Nalo, who is very happy to be involved and share his knowledge with the young people of today.

“As artists we have a very important job to teach the youth about our culture and how to record and store it so that when industry comes and goes and times change, we will always be uniquely PNG.”

The National Art Prize will see 22 winners from two categories, Youth (6-18) and Open (18+) have their original artwork worn as one of the team jersey designs in the Hevea Cup next to designs adapted from artworks by the 2019 partner artists. In addition to a personalised jersey of their original artwork, winners will also take home over K1000 worth of prizes from Brian Bell Home Centres, bmobile, Theodist, Paladin Sports Apparel and more, as well as the opportunity to have their original artwork exhibited by Art Haus Gallery.

Former PNG Olympic swimmer and corporate development manager of Theodist, Ryan Pini, sees the power of Sports for Development programs in local communities.

“Like sports, art in Papua New Guinea is a powerful way to deliver key messages that go beyond language, age, gender, race and religion, touching on one of our most diverse cultural offerings. I look forward to seeing the project promote local art work and importantly, see the program deliver the community awareness on social issues facing Papua New Guineans every day.”

The art prize submission period will stay open for two months, commencing on 1 June, 2019, and closing on 1 August, 2019.

Winners will be announced on 1 September, 2019. To enter the competition, participants are required to send a picture of their original artwork, a picture of themselves, a short story about the artwork and their contact details to Grass Skirt Project via Facebook, Instagram, the Grass Skirt Project Website at, via e-mail to or by post, with the original artwork, to:

Grass Skirt Project Timothy Akis & Georgina Beier National Art Prize

C/O Kina Petroleum Corporation

P.O Box 212, Waigani

Papua New Guinea

Press release