Exploring the Art of the Solomon Islands

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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

Solomon Islands

Solomon Art: one of my favorites at the National Gallery was painted by artist Nelson Horipua called The Last Drop of Heaven.

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

Rivers polluted

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.

Solomon Islands art

Work from the Honiara National Gallery

Solomon Islands art

Vibrant colors are used, especially when depicting the ocean, fish and nature.

Solomon Islands art

More traditional work on parchment paper at the National Gallery in Honiara

Solomon Islands art

It’s not only paintings where local Solomon Islands artists excel

Solomon Islands art

Bold rich colors are on display on the walls of the Honiara National Gallery

Solomon Islands art

Much diversity is to be found among their styles — surrealism, traditional nature-scapes and beyond

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.

Solomon Islands art and Solomon Islands artists

Even the artists who present at the well known National Gallery in Honiara sell their work in markets and on the street (unframed of course). Solomon Islands art on display: Artist shown above: Eddie Meke.

Below is some of the art we saw hanging on the walls in the Honiara Airport (domestic terminal).

Solomon Islands art

Culture and Solomon Islands art can be found throughout the regions.Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

At the National Gallery in Honiara above and below

Solomon Islands

Us outside the National Gallery in Honiara

Solomon Islands

At the National Gallery

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

More magic at the Honiara Gallery

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands

Paintings at the National Gallery above and below

Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands art

Solomon Islands art

Solomon Islands art

Solomon Islands art

Solomon Islands art

A close up of the same work!

Solomon Islands art

Solomon Islands art galleries and our driver in Honiara Andrew

Anthony and our Honiara driver Andrew walking through the National Gallery

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.


Above and below: Ancestral Gods and Warrior energy are an integral part of the Tavanipupu property

Tavanipupu Tavanipupu gods

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.

Skull Island Solomon Islands art

Skulls still on Skull Island, protected by local “spirit protectors,” as they are called by some.

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.

Solomon Islands Travel Guide

Interesting Solomon Islands art in the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara

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.

Solomon Islands Art and Solomon Islands travel guide

Beautiful shell money and shell work through their jewelry.

Solomon Islands Travel Guide Art

Jewelry at the 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.

Solomon Islands Art

Vibrant colors throughout their artwork

Solomon Islands art

Traditional etchings in wooden canoes and on wood at Tavanipupu

Solomon islands art

Solomon Islands art

Native etchings, modern surrealism, abstract and symbolism through lizards, animals and oceans

Solomon islands art

We love this piece!!!

Solomon Islands art

Rich blues for the abundance of rich clear blue waters that surround the Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands art

Traditional etchings in wood that we discovered randomly at the Tavanipupu Resort

Solomon Islands art

Beautiful shell work and shell money that shows up in the Solomon Islands jewelry

Other Useful Articles on the Solomon Islands


Note: we were hosted and sponsored in conjunction with the Solomon Islands Tourism Board but all opinions expressed are entirely our own.

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