|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 tall by 16cm wide (landscape)|
|Copyright||Images and text © Maria Rova|
Hand-painted on barkcloth, using a stenciling technique learnt from traditional ‘masi kesa’ artists. ‘Ika Lailai’ means ‘little fish’ in Fijian. This painting is one of several works of art by M. W. Rova that are inspired by the myriad of tiny fish that make Fiji’s coral reefs a teaming underwater zoo of life and color.
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.