Private View: Ilma Savari's 'Eye of the Sun'

Date: 10 Nov 2022
Location: 2a Conway Street, London, W1T 6BA

Ilma Savari: Eye of the Sun

Private View

Thursday 10 November

6 - 8pm

The Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery

The Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery is proud to announce its upcoming exhibition, Eye of the Sun, which brings together a collection of painted and appliquéd barkcloths by Ömie artist, Ilma Savari. Eye of the Sun marks Savari's first exhibition at the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery and follows in the wake of her triumph at the Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibition earlier this year.

Ilma Savari (b.1969) is a member of the Ömie people, a group from the remote volcanic slopes of Mount Lamington in south-eastern Papua New Guinea. Despite being little known in PNG, the Ömie are globally renowned for their exquisite barkcloth - or tapa cloth - designs which grace prestigious international collections from London's British Museum to the National Museum of Victoria, Australia.

Playing a central role in the Ömie creation story, tapas carry immense spiritual significance in Ömie culture. Ömie artists are free to interpret stories as they wish in their tapa designs, the result of which is a rich diversity of iconographies and styles. Made almost exclusively by women, they have ceremonial and practical uses; worn by women as skirts (nioge) and by men as loincloths (givai), they are also used as blankets for children and adults, and for wrapping the deceased.

Savari’s boldly composed and meticulously executed designs are painted on sheets of fine-grained barkcloth made from the inner bark of mulberry or fig trees. Additional elements are appliquéd onto this ground, stitched with a needle made from the finest bone of a bat wing.

Her restrained palette - of ivory whites, charcoal greys, cinnamon reds, and brilliant golds - derives from her immediate rainforest environment. Pigments are made variously from pounded and chewed leaves, roots, volcanic ash and fruit pulp.

The iconography of Ilma Savari’s tapa designs incorporate a truly unique (in Ömie visual culture) combination of figurative representation and symbolism. Her exuberant barkcloth designs passionately communicate her pride in her sacred ancestral knowledge and her dedication to its preservation.

Deploying these traditional elements in her own distinctive fashion, Savari creates work that combines a deep knowledge of her ancestral history with an unexpected contemporary directness.

The private view of the exhibition will be held on Thursday 10 November from 6 - 8pm at the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery, 2a Conway Street, London, W1T 6BA.

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