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Pacific Encounters: Art & Divinity in Polynesia 1760 – 1860

Britain holds the most comprehensive 18th and 19th century Polynesian collections in the world, yet much of this material is little-known and seldom exhibited. In Pacific Encounters (21 May 2006 – 13 Aug 2006), at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, for the first time, important Polynesian material from British and other collections will be brought together for a major exhibition which will substantially extend appreciation of one of the world’s great art traditions. Presenting rare and visually stunning god-images, sculptures, ornaments, textiles and valuables to a wide audience, this exhibition will explore Polynesia during the early period of contact with European voyagers, missionaries and settlers.

Over 250 objects will be on display, including major sculptures in wood and stone, feather and basketry images, feather cloaks, wooden bowls, decorated bark cloths, ornaments and valuables of ivory, shell, bone and nephrite, and other ritual items such as fly whisks, fans and drums. These objects represent the major regions of Polynesia – Society Islands, Austral Islands, Cook Islands, Marquesas Islands, Hawaii, Easter Island, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand.

“From gorgeous Hawaiian feather cloaks to exquisite Tahitian fish hooks, there will be something in this exhibition for everyone to enjoy. Polynesian art deserves to be widely appreciated, and there is no better place to show it than the Sainsbury Centre” Steven Hooper, Exhibition Curator.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Steven Hooper, Director of the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, University of East Anglia, on behalf of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and in collaboration with the British Museum.

British Museum Press will be publishing a fully illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition.

Author: Editor

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