Australia Gift Artwork to the People of Samoa in Celebration of Independence

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1 JUNE 2023 – To mark the conclusion of Samoa’s year-long celebrations for its 60th independence anniversary, and to celebrate its 61st year, the Australian Government commissioned a series of artworks that represent over 50 years of a deep and enduring partnership between the two nations.

Indigenous Australian artists from Aurukun, the Wik, Wik Way, and Kugu people collaborated with Samoan artists to create artworks that blend their distinctive cultures.

These masterpieces are a testament to the discoveries and insights the artists gained from their collaborative workshop, highlighting similarities in their artforms, including the use of similar materials. Each piece reflects the deep connection between First Nations Australian and Samoan cultures to the land and sea, as well as their shared commitment to conserving their natural heritage for years to come.

The artworks, a gift from the Government and the people of Australia to the Government and people of Samoa, were presented by Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner to Samoa, Ms. Claire McGeechan, to the Honourable Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, during a ceremony at the Australian High Commission in Apia.

During her remarks, Ms. McGeechan highlighted the importance of art in storytelling and maintenance of culture for both Samoa and Australia.  She also mentioned Prime Minister Fiame’s visit to Uluru in March this year, a sacred site for First Nations Australians who consider it a living being. Uluru is also known for its rock art, describing community, animals and journeys.  While undated, this rock art could be up to 40,000 years old.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Samoa, Her Excellency Emily Luck joined virtually and said: “Through the collaboration of First Nations Australians and Samoan artists in creating these pieces, we are reminded of the transformative power of working together and the value of cross-cultural exchange. We are pleased to present these artworks to the people of Samoa, not only as a symbol of our deep and enduring friendship, but also of our shared responsibility to safeguard natural resources for generations to come.”

Australia is proud to continue its partnership with Samoa and looks forward to further strengthening the relationship in the years to come.  The Australian High Commission wishes the people of Samoa a joyous 61st Independence celebrations.

Background Information

A workshop was hosted by the Australian High Commission, Apia in June 2022 to facilitate collaboration between Indigenous Australian artists from the Wik and Kugu Arts Centre in Aurukun in Queensland Australia, and Samoan artists from Manamea Art Studio in Vaitele, Samoa.

The workshop, which was hosted online, was an opportunity for artists to exchange of ideas, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of each other’s traditions, techniques, and artistic styles.

Samoans Nikki Mariner and Peseta Lalovai, a painter and master carver respectively, led the team of artists at Manamea Studio in creating both a painting and a carving.  From Aurukun, Indigenous Australian Artists Lex Namponan and Keith Wikmunea completed their artwork which also included both a carving and a painting.

Through this exchange of ideas and sharing of techniques, the artists were able to create artwork that captures the essence of both cultures and its shared commitment to their natural heritages.