Learning how to make tapa cloth (bark cloth) from aute has been a large part of my journey in learning about the Tahitian fore-mothers of Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands.
The Polynesian women, who accompanied the mutineers on the HMAS Bounty and settled Pitcairn Island, their daughters and generations of Pitcairn girls and women to follow, completely clothed the tiny island community with tapa up until 1856. Following 1856 the Pitcairn Islanders, as a whole, moved to Norfolk Island. The making and printing of tapa/kapa/siapo/ngatu is a functional art that was and is still practiced throughout the Pacific. The art requires great knowledge, skill and hard work. The background texture of TAHITI was created from piece of tapa which I have made from aute trees grown in my garden here in New Zealand. The motifs of this design symbolize growth and the passing on of knowledge.
This design acknowledges the root of my tapa heritage in Tahiti.
- Sue Pearson, Co-founder, Artist