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Kate Robertson

Kuna Siuwai Pokong (Medicinal plants from Siwai)

10 April — 26 June 2021

Gallery 2 | NorthSite
Kate Robertson, HONDO (detail), 2016, archival pigment print, 28.0 x 48.0 cm

Ho mi ho kui ngung pekong tokunoi riku, hoko kukarei ho kui pokong tokunoi rihetong. Uwa ko, hoi nekong hongowa’a nahamong, ho kui pokong mi, ho pokong itikai yi haha’a roro ngo tawah. Ho korokoro rori hungyo, hoko musimang nekong toku topo inakarei. (When you lose the traditional name, you lose the knowledge of the plant because the traditional name describes the functionality of the plant. Therefore, when we lose our language, we are bound to lose our biodiversity because we can no longer find the value in each plant). ”
Dr Jeffrey Noro

This exhibition chronicles plants and their medicinal properties from the Siwai region of Bougainville Island, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, through photographic light recordings.

Concerned with the erosion of tacit traditional medicinal knowledge, Chief Alex Dawia of the Taa Lupumoiku Clan approached and invited Australian artist Kate Robertson to chronicle Siwai plant knowledge for preservation. Chief Jeffrey Noro of the Rura Clan, also from Siwai, joined their efforts, motivated by similar concerns to preserve tacit knowledge systems and provide positive recognition of their region.

Over five years, the project has evolved to include photographic prints, an embroidered fabric panel and a published book to explore how cross-cultural projects can provide mutual benefits through repatriation and transparency. Ultimately, it is a holistic inquiry into how we might work together across territorial borders, cultures and skillsets to achieve a shared future.

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Curious to see and know more. I love the long time and depth of consideration entered into here.

from Tara Gilbee


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