Today, we start working near Marovo Lagoon in the New Georgia Islands. This area is famous because it’s the largest saltwater lagoon in the world encompassing 700 square kilometers; however, this area is also well known for something else—its talented wood carvers.
Our first coral reef seminar was set to take place in Bareho Village. When we arrived at the community hall, we were pleasantly surprised to see that they had set up a “carving show” for us. A carving show is a way to bring all of the wood carvers of the village to one area to sell their products. We saw many beautiful carvings. Then we met a gentleman named Aldio Pita. He was selling something altogether different, paper prints.
To make the paper prints, Aldio first carves designs in wood. This is the template for his prints. Then he adds ink over the carving and uses a jack to press homemade paper against the wood. This is how each print is created. Aldio also creates his own paper by recycling different fibers including banana, seaweed, sugar cane, and recycled paper. The only unnatural material he uses is ink.
After talking to Aldio for a short while, I realized that we were talking about more than just his artwork. He explained that his artwork was inspired by the surrounding environment (ocean, forests, etc.). Aldio then started to talk about how he is part of several environmental initiatives especially resisting logging. He encourages landowners to stop logging and create sustainable jobs instead. His motto is “preserving a forest, creating an income.” Logging has increased in Marovo Lagoon over the past decade and Aldio fears that this action is going to greatly affect his community’s resources.
Aldio passionately speaks about conservation saying, “My heritage tells me that we need to conserve and protect the environment or future generations will suffer. Through my art, I hope to inspire people to protect the environment.”
At least half of the prints that Aldio creates have an ocean theme. His passion for the environment is reflected in his artwork. He includes many creatures from the ocean including different types of fish, giant clams, crabs, octopuses, lobsters, and many more.
Aldio’s efforts to create a livelihood for his family, while creating environmentally friendly artwork is moving. His passion for art and conservation is inspiring for all.
More to come on the printing process…