Symbols of Protection

SYMBOLS of PROTECTION:
 Monumental Sculpture from the Sepik River Region of Papua New Guinea


 The Tambaran House presides over the village. Still the centre of life, it serves both the spiritual and, these days, secular needs of the inhabitants. The house is guarded from above by a traditional carving in the form of an ancestral woman carried through the air by her sons, a pair of eagles. The finial carvings in this exhibition, while firmly based in the tradition from which the Tambaran finial emerges, reflect the unique vision of each artist. The artworks celebrate the imagination of the individual and the value of fine carving tools.

 The chief motivation for the creation of Sepik art has always been the belief in its power to protect the people from harm. The presence of the ancestors in the form of three-dimensional sculpture, such as those shown here, help nurture the inhabitants of the village. As these artists of today increasingly embrace opportunities to have their works appreciated by a global audience, these magnificent, contemporary renditions of ancient myths continue to provide the artists opportunities to celebrate the culture and to provide for their families.

 At Alcheringa Gallery, we honour the artists of today and we feel privileged to host Symbols of Protection, the largest exhibition of monumental sculpture by Sepik artists to date.

 -Elaine Monds

 Click on the image below to watch a video clip of master carver Teddy Balangu discussing one of his pieces featured in the Symbols of Protection exhibition. Teddy Balangu is the recipient of a fellowship to create a monumental sculpture at the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology in residence in the summer of 2006.

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