|Medium||Hand-painted on Masi (inner bark of the paper mulberry tree)|
|Size||The masi is mounted on A4 black card and measures approx. 13.5cm wide by 16cm tall (portrait)|
|Copyright||Images and text © Maria Rova|
Water-based paint on masi. These little sea creatures certainly have some fascinating habits. Male seahorses take fatherhood to a level that would be the envy of many a human feminist! Males can be distinguished by a pouch, located just below their stomachs. The female deposits her eggs into this pouch, and dad is ‘pregnant’ with the babies for several weeks before they are born!
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.