Exhibition: Paperskin – the art of tapa cloth

Paperskin – the art of tapa cloth

Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

Visa Platinum Gallery, Level 4
Wellington, New Zealand
Free entry

Paperskin: the art of tapa cloth is a unique celebration of the breathtaking visual sophistication and richness of tapa.

Paperskin: the art of tapa cloth explores the stories embodied in an impressive selection of more than 40 tapa works from countries across the Pacific. With their evocative visual language of bold and intricate patterning, tapa have been likened to tattoos – another kind of skin that envelops the wearer in cultural significance and beauty.

Te Papa’s version of the Paperskin exhibition includes three pieces of tapa from the Museum’s collection that were not included in the Queensland (Australia) version of the show.

Paperskin: the art of tapa cloth is organised by Queensland Art Gallery, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and the Queensland Museum. It was first shown at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.

Selected tapa from the exhibition:

Mask, Orokolo, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea

Not all tapa is intended to be hung, used as screens, or wrapped around the body. This Orokolo mask from Papua New Guinea’s Gulf Province is made of bark cloth over a cane frame. Masks like these are often worn in ceremonies which evoke and make visible the spirit world. Collection: Queensland Museum

Kapa, 1770s, Hawai‘i

This fragment of Hawaiian kapa (tapa) may have been collected during Captain James Cook’s Pacific travels: certainly, the crew on his third voyage (1776–80) collected many such examples. Made by stitching together smaller pieces, kapa was an art that nearly disappeared in the 19th century. It was revived in the 1960s.

Masi bola, Fiji

Large Fijian masi (tapa) like this often played a key part in weddings. Masi might be hung as a backdrop during the important gift-giving ceremony, or as a screen separating the bed chamber from wedding guests. These masi were designed to be viewed from both sides.

Click here to see more tapa from the exhibition.

The catalogue, Paperskin: Barkcloth across the Pacific is available for free on the Te Papa website. Click on image to access online.

Also check out Te Papa’s blog for behind the scenes of the exhibition.

Tapa - stunning artworks in Paperskin exhibitionThis Saturday 19 June Te Papa opens it’s new tapa exhibition – Paperskin: the art of tapa. You’ll be able to see a stunning range of more than 40 tapa artworks from throughout the Pacific. Huge awe inspiring masks from Papua New Guinea,  Hawaiian tapa more than two hundred years ol … Read More

via Te Papa’s Blog

Source and Images: Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand

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