JOYCELIN LEAHY BIO
Joycelin Leahy lives in Brisbane, Australia, and works across Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. She is a mostly self-taught artist who loves watercolour and has developed her own natural pigments from plants to paint with. Her painting style is influenced by her rich, colourful, and unique Papua New Guinea heritage.
While she can draw and paint with other mediums, the natural pigments link her to her heritage and inspire her to continue to practice using some of these natural dyes before they disappear from her culture. Her love of this art-process stemmed from her childhood years in Lae, Papua New Guinea. As a child, she spent days making paint from vines, leaves and fruits to paint grass skirts, bilums, tapa and headdresses with her grandmother, and family members.
Joycelin says: “I am part of a tribe. I was raised by my mother and grandmother. Like many indigenous people that continue to struggle to hold on to their heritage, I feel that it is my responsibility to work hard to protect, preserve and sustain what belongs to my people. My art and my blog (www.tribalmystic.me) is one way of promoting and protecting my heritage.”
“When I was growing up, we learnt from our elders. The connection we had with land, animals, spirits and our ancestors remains a powerful force within me. When I paint, the magic is in letting go, observing, being in and feeling one with nature. Often I finish an artwork and I don’t remember where it came from.”
Joycelin holds a Masters in Museum Studies from University of Queensland and a Diploma in Journalism from University of Papua New Guinea. She began practicing art seriously between 2016 and the beginning of 2017 after her mother Freda Kauc encouraged her.
Before becoming an artist full-time, she painted and drew for fun and spent her artistic and writing ability to help promote the work of other Melanesian and Pacific Island artists and communities for almost 30 years. She is known for her work in climate change and intangible cultures, Pacific Storms Contemporary Art Exhibition and the Melanesian Wantok 2017 Showcase in Australia.
DR POWESIU LAWES BIO
Born in 1957 in Loniu Village, on Los Negros Island, in Papua New Guinea’s Manus Province, Dr Powesiu Lawes’ art began as drawings in the sand, of fishermen on the reef at dawn and dusk.
A gifted school student, he went on from Primary School, to High School in Manus Province, in the time of the Australian colonial administration, then on to the elite Sogeri Senior High School outside Port Moresby in the early 1970s. He was recognised at each school he attended as a talented artist, actor, sportsman and gifted student whose abilities would enable him to do anything he wanted in the soon-to-be independent Papua New Guinea. So, it was expected that he would be trained as one of Papua New Guinea’s first airline pilots.
But he rejected this path and started in medical school where he produced his first book of art - Wati Kui: “I always wanted to help people, so medical school was a natural choice and my art and the first book - Wati Kui - was one way to pay my way through my medical training”.
After graduating from medical school, Powesiu Lawes spent some years as senior medical officer in the PNG Navy, after which he went into private medical practice in Port Moresby’s Waigani. He maintained his interest in art in the meantime, along with his coaching of rugby union, and frequent returns to his beloved Loniu Village, the place of his birth.
He retired back to Loniu Village in Manus Province in 2009 and was soon elected the leader - Councillor - of Loniu, Los Negros’ largest village; with its own distinct language and cultural practices, it is a village out of which many of Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court judges, academics, diplomats, doctors, teachers, scientists and lawyers have come.
Powesiu Lawes’ art is one central strategy in keeping Loniu’s cultural practices alive, along with his aim of establishing a Loniu Culture House in the village in which to teach Loniu’s young people their unique practices and outlook: “Without a good grounding in the tradition of their birth” says Powesiu Lawes “many of them will lose their way once they leave the village for the bright lights and temptations of Lae, Port Moresby and beyond. I never did, because of this very grounding I had”.
As to his art, he says, “I have tried many different art mediums - brushes, multi-coloured spray painting for murals, multi-coloured ink; but the result that black ink on white paper gives, is the medium that gives me the greatest satisfaction”.
He has completed a second book - Wati Kui 2 - for which most of the drawings in this exhibition have been produced.
He is already working on his third book, the title of which will translate roughly as “Knowledge”.
“So” as he says, “for lovers of silhouettes against the sun - its setting around dusk or its rising around dawn - stand-by …….. there is more to come”.