Timothy Akis

Translator ​& first contemporary PNG artist

Timothy Akis (c. 1944 – 1984) is widely considered as the first contemporary Papua New Guinean artist.

His drawings emerged outside of any artistic tradition, either indigenous or western. They are utterly original, fresh, delicate and personal. In the 1960s, working as a translator, Akis made little sketches to help anthropologists with identifying plants and animals.

Brought to Port Moresby, he was encouraged to work in the studio of English-born artist Georgina Beier. In six weeks Akis produced a good number of astonishing drawings, 40 of which were exhibited in the University of Papua New Guinea Library in February 1969.

Later Akis lived in his Tsembaga Village in Madang Province but periodically came to Georgina’s studio in Port Moresby where he continued making drawings and prints. He regularly exhibited his work in the National Art School in Papua New Guinea’s capital and in a number of overseas exhibitions, including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia and the Philippines and posthumously in France, Germany and Australia. Akis inspired other Papua New Guinean artists, pioneering the first generation of contemporary artists in his country.

Georgina Beier

Celebrated international artist ​& founding mother of PNG contemporary arts

Georgina Beier is an internationally acclaimed artist whose opus of personal artworks include drawing, murals, welded iron sculptures, graphic arts and theatre design. She has held over 30 single-show exhibitions around the world and participated in 28 group exhibitions including shows at the Tate Modern Gallery in London and the Museum of Modern Art in Australia. She has painted murals for the Schmidt bank in Bavaria and Yoruba kings in Nigeria, had works commissioned by Cambridge University and published papers archived at the National Library of Australia.

Although Georgina’s works feature in some of the largest private collections in the world, her diversity as an artist and her commitment to developing art culture saw her introduce painting to psychiatric patients at Laloki Hospital in Port Moresby, establish the silk screen textile printing industry in PNG and create the studio space where Timothy Akis and Mathias Kauage began their artistic careers. Georgina’s work in Papua New Guinea formed the nucleus of the National Art School of Papua New Guinea.

As a major catalyst for the news arts movement in Nigeria and PNG, Georgina’s work identifying and developing individual artists, communities and art-centric enterprises has seen over 20 artists go on to receive international recognition while a large number of craftsmen and craftswomen have generated viable livelihoods through her input of ideas and financial support.

Grass Skirt Project is proud to recognise Georgina for her contributions to art culture in Papua New Guinea and honoured to have her as official Patron of the Grass Skirt Project Timothy Akis & Georgina Beier National Art Prize.

Meet Our 2019 ​Timothy Akis & Georgina Beier National Art Prize Partner Artists

Ruki Fame

Ruki Fame was born in Nagameto Village in the Eastern Highlands. He was the first Papuan New Guinean to become a metal sculptor. ​Trained originally as a welder in Port Moresby, he attracted the attention of Georgina Beier who began to teach him to make iron lamps and wall hangings of perforated steel.

Joe Nalo

Joe Nalo was born in 1951 on Johnson Island in Manus Province. ​He has enjoyed a successful career as an artist exhibiting around the world, as a teacher of fine art at the National Art School of Papua New Guinea and as a curator for the National Gallery and Museum.

Lesley Wengembo

Lesley Wengembo was born in Goroka and raised in Port Moresby, Morata. He is family is from Pangia, Southern Highlands and Bundi, Madang Province. ​ Lesley started drawing at the early age of five and is currently studying at the National Art School of Australia in Sydney.

Clement Koys

Clement Koys is a Simbu who grew up in Madang. In primary school, he befriended a potter from the Eastern Highlands and has been an artist ever since. Koys tries to blends culture into his portraits. There are deeper messages that he wants to bring across and he sees painting as way of doing this.

Albert Joseph

Albert is from Western Highlands Province. His current works represent a style refined over the past 8 years though he is constantly exploring new methods and mediums. His art reflects the beauty and diversity of PNG culture, drawing inspiration from traditional face painting. His preferred mediums are charcoal, acrylic, pencil and pastel.

Jeffry Feeger

Jeffry Feeger was born in Kerema, Gulf Province. Jeffry is part of a new generation of Papua New Guniea artists whose work reflects the convergence of traditional and contemporary life. He describes his style as ‘magic realism’ where photorealism meets surrealism, between the real world and the world of spirits. His work reflects his culture and the social and political realities of life in Papua New Guinea.

Laben Sakale John

Laben Sakale John comes from the Hakwange village in the Menyamya District of Morobe Province. His work is a reflection of his people, culture and personal experiences. It addresses gender roles, family affairs, domestic violence, HIV and AIDS, law and order, and politics in Papua New Guinea.

W'keng Aseng

Manfred Wkeng Aseng was born at Sblben (Place of many Cordylines) in the month of harvesting gourds (March /April). He is a Kalam speaker from the Kaironk Valley, in the Bismark Schrader Ranges in Papua New Guinea. Trained at the National Art School, Wkeng has consistently maintained his own vision and has developed a style, that while deeply based in his traditional world, uses techniques such as pen, paper, flat surfaces etc that were unknown in Kalam Culture.

Pax Jakupa Jr.

Pax was born near Goroka in the Eastern Highlands. ​ He is a self-taught painter but one with an artistic pedigree. His father, Jakupa Ako, was the first Highlands artist to exhibit outside PNG. Pax lives in a village with no running water and his house has no electricity, which means he can only paint during the day.

Nanias Maira

Nanias is from Tongujam Village in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. He is a self taught painter, potter and carver whose work is heavily influenced and inspired by the culture and iconography of the East Sepik area.

Jane Wena

Jane is from Kerowagi in the Simbu region of Papua New Guinea. She is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer. The theme of her works relate to the Chimbu and neighbouring Huli cultures.

Winnie Weoa

Winnie is of mixed Enga and Hagen origin and was born in Western Highlands. She graduated with a Diploma in Fine Arts UPNG in 1993. Her paintings reflect the culture of her origins as PNG is a multicultural society and any culture has its own way of doing things.

Gigs Wena

Gigs Wena was born in 1972 and comes from the Simbu (Chimbu) Province. Gigs’ work, much of which he has painted in his village Nombuna (Kerowagi), still smell of the smoke from the windowless native houses in which he works. In Gigs’ paintings, elements of traditional culture as well as native wildlife such as Geckos and multicoloured birds dominate.

Ratoos Gary Haoapa

Ratoos is among the few Papuans from the Gulf province of PNG who continues to express the beliefs and traditions of his ancestors through his paintings. Ratoos was born on the 6th of May, 1962. Ratoos has exhibited his art in Australia since the early 80's and has been involved in a range of teaching and performing occupations in both PNG and Australia.

Gazellah Bruder

As one of Papua New Guinea's most prominent female fine artists, Gazellah has received significant attention from both the domestic and international art communities. ​Gazellah believes that great art has the power to draw in an audience and subtly demands positive or negative criticism, creating conversation.

“When we exclude women, everyone pays the price. When we include women, the whole world wins.”
- Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations

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