int*er*is*land collective

Recent Advances in Bark Cloth Conservation Technical Analysis at Kew Gardens by In*ter*is*land Collective

‘Situating Pacific Barkcloth in Time and Place’ project, is a collaboration between the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History at the University of Glasgow, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Over three years (2016 -18) they investigated the material nature of Polynesian barkcloth collections from The Hunterian Museum (Glasgow) and the Economic Botany Collection (Kew). The role of conservation in the project was to review and develop technical methods for conserving barkcloth, to stabilise and better store objects, and to facilitate visual and physical access for all user communities.

In*ter*is*land Collective, working with Mark Nesbitt, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Frances Lennard, University of Glasgow facilitated a community guestlist for the symposium, this initial connection also allowed for the group to meet lead managers from the project and to start investigating the opportunity of connecting research and collections to source communities.  The group gathered included members of the Pacific Community in London alongside academics from the Pacific, attending the Pacific Histories Association Conference in Cambridge, in turn producing an interesting spread of representation from across the Pacific from Hawai’i to the Cook Islands and back to Aotearoa.

While content from the days presentations was technical and scientifically based, much research was shared and received gratefully, particularly time spent with the Economic Botany Collection which included extraordinary examples of barkcloth from Pitcairn, Hawai’i, Fiji, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Futuna, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and New Guinea.  

Closing comments and discussion brought up the disconnect between new scientific research and information contained inside ancient language and text, oral history and cultural practices, alongside the importance of reconnecting the collections back to source communities in the Pacific and repatriation of knowledge.  We look forward to working on initiating conversations in the future and increasing accessibility to our communities.

Words: Jo Walsh

Images: Ariana Davis

Acknowledgements:  Mark Nesbitt, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew / Frances Lennard, University of Glasgow and a SPECIAL call out to Kim Walker.

Presentations by:

Situating Pacific Barkcloth Production in Time and Place - Research

Misa Tamura, University of Glasgow

Situating Pacific Barkcloth Production in Time and Place - Materials analysis of Pacific barkcloth

Margaret Smith, University of Glasgow

Barkcloth on display - the Discovering Worlds Project at RAMM

Sarah Klopf, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter

Exploring support materials and adhesives for the repair of barkcloth:

Aspects of conserving tapa elements of a Tahitian mourner’s costume

Sophie Rowe, Nicole Rode and Monique Pullan, The British Museum

Mounting barkcloth with rare earth magnets: the compression and fibre resiliency answer

Gwen Spicer, Spicer Art Conservation

Talanoa: Ancient Futures Project by In*ter*is*land Collective

“Folaloa e falā kae alea e kāinga”

(Roll out the mat so our kin can gather and dialogue)

Hosted in partnership with University of Auckland, the Ancient Futures Projects research team comprises of Tongan Artists and specialists in Tongan history, material culture and museum collections.  


In the company of honoured Tongan artists Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi and Dagmar Dyck and academic collaborators Phyllis Herda, Billie Lythberg, Arne Perminow, Andy Mills and Wonu Veys; Talanoa: Ancient Futures was held in conclusion to a three-week tour of collections, where Tongan works are held, in Europe and the United Kingdom.   In*ter*is*land Collective provides connection and a space for people to come together to talk art, history and the future.

Talanoa is not just to talk but it means to bring different people, ideas and words together with ofa, mafana, malie and faka’apa’apa (love, warmth, laughter, respect).   The evening started with time together to eat a feast of baked kumara, green bananas and fresh pork salad and ended with much discussion and sharing around identities, inspiration, memories and current projects.   This is the way of the our people all throughout the MOANA.

EUROPEAN & UK COLLECTIONS VISITED: Weltmuseum Wien, Vienna; Grassi Museum, Leipzig; The Forster Collection in Dessau-Woerlitz; Etnografiska Museet, Stockholm; Muśee du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Paris; Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge; British Museum, London; Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford; and the Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

Words & Images: Jess Palalagi

Creative New Zealand East End Tea Party by In*ter*is*land Collective

Working closely with Creative New Zealand’s International Team, In*ter*is*land Collective hosted *East End High Tea* for the artists, curators and government representatives connected to the curation of the exhibition Oceania at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

The afternoon tea, of was held at Raven Row on Sunday 23 September 2018 with many people in attendance, of particular importance the artists, who had come from Aotearoa including members of Mata Aho Collective - Bridget Reweti, Sarah Hudson, Terri Titau Fiona Pardington and Mark Adams, along with curator Peter Brunt and assistant Hanahiva Rose, Chair of Creative New Zealand Michael Moynahan and two kiwi’s from the Royal Academy team Hannah Murray (Assistant Exhibitions Manager) and Amy Macpherson (Deputy Head of Digital Content and Channels).

An informal and social event, despite the rain falling relentlessly from Ranginui onto Papatuanuku.  The menu was delicious and featured a range of stuffed local bagels, fresh scones with cream and jam and straight from the oven sausage rolls.  

Invitations were sent out in both English and Māori.  A big shout out to Jude Chambers for her support and trust in us creating this event together.

Word & Images: Jo Walsh

Translation: Ataraiti Waretini

LEI MAKING WORKSHOPS with Jacqui Brown by In*ter*is*land Collective

Jaq Profile.jpg


with Jacqui Brown


A key part of building our island away from home has been caring for our space. This has included the naming, the tikanga we hold, and the activities we do inside of it. At the very beginning, over a series of evenings, MOKU was warmed up through the sharing of food and making sessions, under the tutelage of lei maker Jacqui Brown. Hawaiian ribbon lei use materials that are readily available in London, rather than fresh lei which rely on a natural abundance of materials harder to find in such an urbanised space. Our lei collection continues to grow and shrink as we make and share ribbon lei with our Pacific community and treasured guests.