Tasman Light Gallery, National Maritime Museum, Sydney – 1 August to 29 September 2019
The Massim culture of Papua New Guinea is home to a unique collection of colourful outrigger canoes used for trade and are vital to the significant inter-island and community exchange of precious artefacts known simply as Kula.
Located in the Solomon Sea off Milne Bay in eastern PNG, these remote islands remain dependent upon traditional and contemporary versions of their original single outrigger sailing canoes for trade and communication. The museum’s historic vessels curator David Payne spent the whole of August in 2017 on assignment with research colleagues travelling by launch through the Massim islands, meeting the communities and documenting their amazing canoes.
Back in Australia, David then developed his field notes and measurements into accurate plans, the first time this had been done for many of the craft the team located. These large scale drawings capture the canoes’ intriguing construction, their sail and rig layout, and the wonderful carving details. A dozen different canoe types are on show and the drawings reveal each canoe’s individual characteristics.
Pictured: Drawing of an outrigger canoe from the Massim culture, Milne Bay, PNG, by David Payne.