Voices of the Pacific

A thrilling celebration of Pacific arts and culture took place at St Martin-in-the-Fields in October for the inaugural Pacific Art Festival.

At the launch event guests were treated to a recorded performance by Fiji-based dance company VOU’s re-developed excerpt of Navi Fong’s ‘Are We Stronger Than Winston?’ which was originally created in 2016 in response to Tropical Cyclone Winston’s devastation of land, life and livelihoods in Fiji.

As Fong began a captivating rendition of the Fijian lullaby O O Bawa on screen, former VOU dancer Ta’Arei Weeks entered the exhibition space. Her live performance, also choreographed by Fong, brought an emotive dimension to the opening festivities. Weeks concluded her performance by expressively introducing two artworks by Fijian artists Peni Ledua and Saimone Kikau while dancing to a soundtrack sung by VOU founder Sachiko Soro. 

Ta’Arei Weeks also danced and spoke at a Bread for the World service at St Martin-in-the-Fields during the Festival. 

An art exhibition curated by Sulu Daunivalu (Director, Museum of Pacific & Oceanic Art, Latvia) showcased both heritage and contemporary arts, including a wide variety of visual art that had never been shown before. The exhibition took visitors on a journey across the Pacific region whilst highlighting the impact climate change is having on these small island nations and how Pacific communities are fighting back. A selection of artists showing in the exhibition included Nicolai Michoutouchkine, Irami Buli and George Evans.

Online events concerning culture and the impacts of climate change in the region also took place throughout the festival. These included:

Voices of the Pacific - Pacific arts and culture

A panel of artists and performers talked about Pacific arts and culture plus the impact climate change has had on artist livelihoods in the Pacific. The panel included: 

Katrina Talei Igglesden, an academic and creative of mixed British and Fijian ancestry; Sulu Daunivalu is a Fijian artist, art critic, art museum and gallery owner and curator, entrepreneur and social equality advocate; Navi Fong, VOU Fiji’s leading choreographer and Fiji’s most established choreographer; Michelle Rounds, an internationally renowned jazz vocalist, songwriter, recording artist, voice instructor, and collaborative singer; and Natasha Vaike, who has a vast background in Cook Island dance and culture and a lifetime of performing, competing and organising global Pacific Island productions.

View the panel session here.

Voices of the Pacific - New solidarity

A panel of faith and climate mitigation leaders including His Excellency The Most Rev. Dr Peter Loy Chong DD, Archbishop of Suva, discuss what Pacific Island communities most need from Cop26 and how communities of faith can connect anew to amplify the calls for urgent action.

Also included were: Chris Luxton, who was for 22 years General Secretary of Papua New Guinea Church Partnership; Isabella Naiduki, an indigenous Fijian scholar and writer, from the province of Tailevu; Mariana Waqa, a curious life-long learner who has been working with different churches in Fiji over the last five years; Grace Maharaj, who represented Fiji in climate change negotiations during COP25 as well as Uppsala University as an education institution; and Samson Verma, a member of the French diplomatic community who is a founding member of the Niu Waves writing collective.

View the panel session here.