We are standing watching a flock of local birds: a gannet gliding on thermals, the ‘nuffka’ or sacred kingfisher intently waiting for movement in the grass, a big rooster surveying us proudly, a white tern hovering on translucent wings. Each one caught in the moment, that uplift, that turn. Fish dart by: a trumpeter, trevally in silvery splendour, tiny shells glisten, given up by the ocean.
Further investigation reveals that in Gallery Guava you visit a magical space where the gannet glides across recycled shingles, the white tern hovers within slumped glasswork and fine china and the rooster and nuffka array themselves across an expanse of paper. Fish are hand-printed on textiles, or cast in silver, as are the shells, their whorls caught for posterity.
So what does living on Norfolk Island mean to the local artists? If you let your eye move around the walls and displays of Gallery Guava, you’ll soon see what is important to them, what catches their eye in daily life and is preserved through their work. The sheer natural beauty of the island, captured through landscapes and close observation of it’s denizens: the birds, the ocean life, even the cows wandering along the byways. Island houses and their rich gardens also feature, with colourful hibiscus, frangipani & heliconias brightening the walls. Local traditions like weaving and carving are present, drawing on links to Pitcairn & Polynesian ancestries. Everyday island activities such as beachcombing for hi-hi or walking the forest trails bring fragments of found objects, or the detail of a texture to our attention.
“People are always saying that they are surprised by the range of work available by local artists” explains artist/gallery owner Tracey Yager. Gallery Guava was established sixteen years ago, which means that Tracey has had plenty of time to hone the gallery’s carefully curated stock. “We have a wide selection of work from more than a dozen artists, from glassware, ceramics and lustre-ware, paintings & drawings, carvings, textiles, sterling silver jewelry and a range of island-inspired home-wares. Many of our artists’ works are held in international collections, regularly represent Norfolk Island at Pacific Arts Festivals, and we’ve recently had one artist selected for the Wynne/Archibald Prize, and other commissions for tableware for the Prime Minister & a painting for HRH Queen Elizabeth for her Jubilee.”
Naturally, the art in Gallery Guava is always changing, so there is something new to discover on each visit. Gallery co-owner and artist Sue Draper says “We love having the artists bring in their latest work, it’s always a surprise to unfold the wrappings and see what they’ve been creating”. One of the newest additions to the gallery is their in-house ‘Guava’ home-wares range, designed by Sue, who drew upon her previous experience in interior design and her island lifestyle for inspiration. “We’ve taken some of our favourite local images like terns & trumpeter (a local fish), hand drawn them and then screen-printed them locally on natural fabrics, like linen & cotton”. Their contemporary lines and natural materials reflect a stylish, relaxed island way of living, where it’s Emily Bay for a morning swim, and drinks with friends on a verandah in the evening.
To learn more about Gallery Guava and Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama please visit:
Image Credit: Robin Nisbet
Article content disclaimer: Article first published in YourWorld, Volume 03 Issue 02, 2013. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.