Solomon Islands art represents what you’d expect it to in many ways: nature, raw beauty and the magic of its oceans.
While the Solomon Islands is known for its shell money, and its intricately designed handcrafts such as carvings, baskets and jewelry, there is also a lot of Solomon Islands art in the more traditional sense: sculptures, modern and traditional paintings and pottery, which can be purchased at markets and villages throughout the Solomons. There is also an amazing collection of Solomon Islands art at the National Art Gallery in Honiara, which is where we started our trip.
When you land in Honiara, even if you’re planning to focus your trip to all things “beach and water,” I’d recommend dedicating a few hours to the cultural scene in Honiara: the main market and the art gallery.
The Solomon Islands Art Scene
I love the above painting so much as it has to do with the environment, protecting it and man’s interference with the natural flow of the Earth‘s ecosystem. The poem below is written by Nelson Horipua, who is from Kwaibala in the Malaita Province and is named after his above painting by the same name. It’s nothing short of powerful and if you love the environment and want to protect it, you’ll be deeply moved by his art and poem.
The Last Drop of Heaven
“Creatures of the Arth
Crying Foul because
Their Ecosystem is poisoned
By man’s greed for development
The air, sea and land is polluted with toxic chemicals
Trees chopped mercilessly
For profit to sustain man’s Hunger for Wealth
A result of industrialilzation
In the villages, life rolls on
People laughing, dancing and having fun
Polluting their environment
“Leaf bloakwa no moa” they shout
Little they know their action is a grave waiting its fill.
Here comes the final drop of heaven.
A drop that quenches no human thirst and hunger
Because human greed has had its fill.”
Wow, right? If only this artist had stepped foot on western soil…..seen what has happened in the United States and where man has pushed his way further into environmental interference, like the South American Amazon.
The National Gallery in Honiara
We loved our tour of the National Gallery in Honiara. My favorite Solomon Island art came from artists Eddie Meke and Nelson Horipua, both of whose work are shown in this article. I also enjoyed the work of James Wale who showed some Tomok acrylic on canvas from the Western Province and Desmond Amasia, whose modern abstract work is largely done on Tapa cloth.
Eddie Meke is one of the more well known artists who show at the National Gallery. Originally from Ambu Malaita province, he works on canvas, cloth and fabric and does a lot of iconic motifs and figures.
Below is some of the art we saw hanging on the walls in the Honiara Airport (domestic terminal).
Culture and Solomon Islands art can be found throughout the regions.
Gods & Warriors Protect the Country
Below are a variety of statues and etchings into wood and stone which you can find throughout the Solomon Islands. As such, they are part of Solomon Islands art in many ways. Gods, warriors and beyond are were displayed in a variety of forms — the below can be found at the Tavanipupu Resort & Spa on Marau Sound.
Ancient Ceremonial Shrines
The Solomon Islands are scattered with archaeological monuments including ancient ceremonial shrines. You can visit ancient hill forts on the tops of mountains, headhunting or skull shrines and other sites of important legends, such as Skull Island.
Unfortunately, some of the skulls which have been left there have been taken, although some remain and local “spirit protectors” watch over the island to keep what remains in tact, as well as to demonstrate respect for the spirits who remain.
Solomon Islands Art Even in Hotels
Even in hotels, you’ll find Solomon Islands art in abundance. For example, look at this stunning piece behind the reception at the well known and popular Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara, where we had lunch on our first day.
Creative Solomon Islands Art Thru Jewelry & Crafts
You can also find amazing creativity through the jewelry, crafts, woodwork and shells in the markets and villages of the Solomon Islands. For example, take a look at the “creative magic” we marveled at in the popular Honiara Market.
More Creativity on the Walls
We discovered more creativity on the walls in Honiara and in between the capital city and Marau Sound near Tavanipupu.
Other Useful Articles on the Solomon Islands
- The Tavanipupu Resort & Spa
- The Solomon Islands Art Scene
- Under the Sea in the Solomon Islands Snorkeling
- Traveling to Skull Island from Munda
- Your Ultimate Solomon Islands Travel Guide
Note: we were hosted and sponsored in conjunction with the Solomon Islands Tourism Board but all opinions expressed are entirely our own.