Oceania is the current blockbuster exhibition at the R.A. and visiting it for the second time of viewing I was struck by the fact that the majority of the exhibits shown were never intended for an art gallery but a way to express their stories and their relationship with the land and the animals that inhabited their lands. So there are intricately carved wood carvings often depicting birds and fish. Interesting too is the relationship between the people and the animals with a respect for those animals who share their lands. There is humour too with some colourful folk tales.
All manner of natural materials are used from shells, shark teeth, coconut fibres, bark and feathers.
For the majority of the pieces we do not know the name of the artists and it struck me that this was similar to the great cathedrals of Europe where for the most part we do not know the names of the master stone masons who created the beautiful sculptures which adore these cathedrals.
I wondered if an ‘artwork’ that is not created with the purpose to sell or hang in an art gallery is it imbued with a different feeling. For the Oceanians their work was an expression of their life’s and for the master masons their work was to the glory of God.