Preserving culture in Art

Nanias Maira has been into art since he was a 9 year-old-boy playing with river banks clay in his village in Ambunti, East Sepik.

He has a vision for the future of Arts for his Kowma tribe in Ambunti district of East Sepik Province. Originally from Tongjamb village in the mountains of Ambunti but now resides in Kreer village in Wewak where he moved to many years ago, in pursuit of his dream as an artist/painter.

Starting off with clay models in the river banks Maira has developed his passion for art and painting but learnt that other artist around the world use acrylic painting to display spectacular designs. He is so excited about portraying his tribal designs to the world but also to preserve the culture though his paintings.

Maira came to Port Moresby in 2014 when he heard some people talking about participating in the 5th Melanesian Festival. He joined the team from East Sepik and took part in the festival by displaying some of his models, wooden caricatures. When he noticed that the sale was good, he decided to remain in Port Moresby for a while.

While in Port Moresby Maira pursued learning about how to use acrylic painting and so he improved his painting skills. He said there was good market in Port Moresby for the paintings so he stayed on with his three sons.

However, COVID-19 has affected the artist market when the lockdowns were imposed and it has been hard to survive in the city during the last 12 months so he wants to go back home where living standard is affordable.

Maira wants to preserve his culture by teaching the younger generation back home on how to use their local tribal designs to create art. He has started with this by training his own sons how to paint.

Nanias Maira is one of the PNG artists who has registered to enter into the Art Exhibition being organized by the Port Moresby Arts Theatre coming up in August, where about 50 to 60 Papua New Guinean artist will be participating.

Maira will be displaying one of his son’s painting at this exhibition which will take place from 06th to 08th August at the Port Moresby Arts Theatre in Waigani. 

Frieda Kana