The President of Fiji opens Norwich exhibition celebrating the island nation’s art
- Credit: Archant
It was a very grand affair for the opening of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts' latest exhibition – and one which was attended by some very special guests.
Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific is the world's largest exhibition about Fiji and Fijian art, and tonight the President of the South Pacific island nation paid a trip to Norwich to officially open the show.
His Excellency Major-General (Ret'd) Jioji Konousi Konrote was joined by his wife, Fiji's First Lady Sarote Konrote, along with His Excellency Mr Jitoko Tikolevu, Fiji's High Commissioner to the UK.
Other guests who attended the event included Lord Sainsbury and Sir David Attenborough.
President Konrote enjoyed a tour of the exhibition – which features an array of Fijian art and artefacts that go back as far as the late 18th century – before participating in a special Fijian opening ceremony.
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In a speech, he thanked the exhibition's curator, Steven Hooper, and the many partners including the Sainsbury Research Unit and the Fiji Museum, which have made the exhibition – and its accompanying book – a reality.
He said: 'Through the exhibition and the book, the relationship between Fiji and Britain can been seen as a close one for a long time.
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'It is therefore perhaps fitting that Fiji Museum should collaborate with British institutions and with Prof Hooper and his colleagues to celebrate the many achievements of the gifted artists and craftspeople from our islands.
'However, this publication and exhibition is not only a reminder of the importance of Fiji's heritage, it is also a challenge to museums all round the world – including the Fiji Museum – to look after it and share it for the benefit of everyone, especially the people of Fiji.'
More than 250 works gathered from collections across the UK and the Fiji Museum are on show in the exhibition.
They include intricately-carved weapons, barkcloth textiles made from paper mulberry trees, and even an eight-metre long sailing canoe.
The President's trip to Norwich is part of a state trip which will also include visiting the Queen and Fiji's peacekeeping troops in the Middle East.
Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific opens to the public tomorrow at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich. The exhibition runs until February 12. Visit www.scva.ac.uk