The Royal Academy of Arts will present an exhibition focusing on Oceanic work, which will be on display from the 29th September. 

Oceania_Tene Waitere, Ta Moko panel, 1896-99
Tene Waitere, Ta Moko Panel. Courtesy of National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The exhibition will celebrate the art of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, encompassing the vast Pacific region from New Guinea to Easter Island, Hawaii to New Zealand, bringing together 200 exceptional works from public and private collections worldwide.

Spanning over 500 years, Oceania will provide an opportunity to immerse themselves in the art and culture of an area which covers nearly a third of the world’s surface, a region rich in history, ritual and ceremony.

This exhibition also marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, founded in 1768, the same year Captain James Cook set sail on his first expedition to the Pacific on the Endeavour.

Oceania will specifically on art created by Pacific Islanders, the exhibition will be organised around three main themes: Voyaging will look at life on the water as revealed through the extraordinary stories of indigenous navigation and the arts of the canoe and canoe accoutrements such as carved prows and paddles. Place-making will explore the settlement of communities and Encounter will focus on trade and exchange in Pacific cultures.

Highlights of the exhibition is set to include  the 14th century wooden Kaitaia carving, (Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland) which was excavated in 1920 and considered to be one of the oldest known objects to have been found in New Zealand. Other objects will include two Māori hoe, canoe paddles, (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge) collected on 12 October 1769, during the first voyage of Captain James Cook, just three days after the Endeavour’s crew encountered Māori for the first time and drawings made on the first Cook voyage, by the Tahitian priest and expert navigator Tupaia.

Meanwhile, contemporary work included in the exhibition will include: the vast panoramic video In Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015-17, by the New Zealand multi-media artist, Lisa Reihana (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki) and John Pule’s, Kehe tau hauaga foou (To all new arrivals), 2007 (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki).

Oceania will be on display at the Royal Academy of Arts from the 29th September until the 10th December. For more information visit: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/oceania

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