Island Afternoon by Maria Rova of Sigavou Studios. Copyright SS

Sigavou Studios Crafter Profile

As one of Fiji’s most prominent visual artists, Maria Rova is known for her vibrant, contemporary paintings on traditional Fijian barkcloth and Habotai Silk.

Fiji’s natural environment and rich cultural heritage provide a diverse source of inspiration to this award-winning artist, who works from her home-based studio in Nadi, on Fiji’s main island Viti Levu.

Maria, who is of American-German heritage, describes her connection to Fiji as “a love affair in more ways than one”.

While training as an elementary school teacher in England, Maria met her future husband, who hails from the small island of Taveuni in northern Fiji. Her decision to move to the South Pacific with him in 1991 has had a profound impact on her art.

Maria’s work evolves out of a unique perspective – that of a newcomer finding her feet in an extended Fijian family with a rich cultural heritage very different to her own, in a tropical island environment full of exotic flora and fauna.

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time" - Thomas Merton.

“Growing new roots has been both challenging and exhilarating” explains Maria. “First impressions eventually give way to deeper layers of meaning if one takes the time to look and understand. This is something I have increasingly explored in my art, using overlapping forms to show connections and explore perceptions. I love weaving an open-ended element of abstract shapes into my compositions, inviting the viewer to interact with the artwork individually, forming their own, personal interpretation of what they see.”

What started as a kitchen-table enterprise has become a way of life for the Rova family, with their own journey to make a living from the arts inspiring them to develop a support network for local artists and craftspeople. 

Community craft fairs, children’s classes, group exhibitions and a pottery training project have evolved from that. Giving back to the community is a central philosophy from Sigavou Studios, their family-owned art company which now employs several art assistants who help to create the hand-painted limited edition ranges that Maria designs.

Much of Maria’s current work is created in acrylics on traditional barkcloth crafted by women from her mother-in-law’s village on a small atoll. An integral part of Fijian culture, this papery material is made from the inner bark of tropical mulberry trees.

Maria’s other medium of choice is dyes and resist on white habotai silk, though she is known to experiment with clay, cement plaster and glass, as well as the occasional collage project.

“The rhythmic, geometrical patterns and earthy tones of ancient barkcloth art find an echo amidst the contemporary colours and forms that characterize my art. The vibrant colour combinations I often use in my silk paintings reflect back to a fascination with art by the European Expressionists of the early 20th century. Henri Matisse’s use of flat, bold shapes finds an echo in my work as well.”

“Painting is a wonderful way of expressing my love of life and respect for Fiji’s uniqueness. In the fast-paced life of the 21st century, it is easy to become oblivious to the beauty hidden in our surroundings. My artwork seeks to rekindle in my own soul a sense of wonder in the small details of nature – the ordinary as well as the exotic.”

Maria Rova, Artist, Sigavou Studios Fiji

About: Maria Rova

Maria’s paintings have won a string of awards at local and national exhibitions. Her art features prominently on the walls of resorts and corporate offices around Fiji, as well as in numerous private collections in Fiji and abroad.

Pacific Iguana Art by Maria Rova of Sigavou StudiosAfter Unexpected Rain Art by Maria Rova of Sigavou Studios3 Turtles Art by Maria Rova of Sigavou Studios

Products from Supplier

Follow us