Sihot’e Nioge: When Skirts Become Artworks
Open May 21 – July 30. 2022
This exhibition of Omie painted, beaten bark cloth known as Tapa has two venues, Cairns Museum and the Cairns Court House Gallery.
The Omi people live on the slopes of Huvaemo (Mt Lamington) in Oro Province, PNG. Tapa is integral to Omie culture. Their origin story includes the making of the first skirt or nioge. When the first man to arrive on Earth, Mina, told the first woman, Saja, to go down to the river, find the right tree, remove its bark and beat it on the river stones, then soak it in mud; together they were setting up the first Omie, cultural ritual. Saja came back wearing her first nioge, thus sanctifying the first marriage. Omie society could now begin.
The centrality of nioge or tapa for these remote, rainforest dwellers continues today. In isolation the Omie continue to develop the most colourful and compositionally diverse painted beaten bark cloth in the Pacific region. Their nioge is made from the inner bark or bast of certain rainforest trees. All dyes are from the natural world around them. ‘Sihot’e Nioge; When Skirts Become Artoworks’ reveals the stages of nioge innovation from time immemorial until today, from Australia’s nearest Melanesian neighbours in PNG.
Opens Sat 21 May and runs at Cairns Museum through to 30 July 2022. The exhibition is free with Museum entry ($15/$12/$6).
Free floor talk by curator and tapa specialist Joan G Winter
Sat 21 July at 10.30am