|Medium||Hand-painted on Masi (inner bark of the paper mulberry tree)|
|Size||The masi is mounted on A4 black card and measures approx. 14cm wide by 16cm tall (portrait)|
|Copyright||Images and text © Maria Rova|
“Vonu” is the Fijian word for turtle, painted here in the cool colours of our tropical waters. Turtles are revered in island legends as symbols of wisdom and blessing. Though their numbers have been dwindling, greenback, hawksbill, and leatherback turtles still visit Fiji’s beaches to breed as they journey through the Pacific Ocean along ancient migratory paths.
Fijian ‘masi’, also called barkcloth, is produced by village women on islands such as Vatulele. A renewable resource, masi is made by harvesting strips of bark from specially grown paper-mulberry trees. Each piece takes days to process, involving repeated pounding, soaking and stretching. These traditional skills are passed on from generation to generation, with certain clans being considered the experts in masi-making. The uneven quality of the masi reflects its handmade origin.
Maria Rova lives in Nadi, Fiji. Her artwork is inspired by the wildlife, culture, and scenery of the Pacific, especially that of the remote island of Taveuni to the north of the Fiji group, which is home to her husband’s traditional clan. Sustained by forest and reef, Taveuni villagers still follow many of the ancient cultural practices that give Fijian people their unique identity. The artist wishes to acknowledge gratefully the impact that her Fijian family has had on her work.