About a month ago the Alliance Française Art Gallery showcased a two-week Art Exhibition in Port Vila, Vanuatu, by talented Nawita Artists under the theme ‘Kava’. Adorina Massing of the Vanuatu Daily Post wrote about the exhibition:
72-year-old Art Director of the Nawita Artist Group, Emmanuel Watt from Ambae, displayed his incredible art work and wished to share his knowledge on the Exhibition’s work, with young Ni-Vanuatu promising future artists. The amazing paintings of kava and sculptures made of coconuts were all to show the traditional and significant use of kava and coconuts in Vanuatu.
Mr Watt has been working as an artist for 42 years, along with his talented associates in the Nawita group of artists. He began his early career at the age of 16 by carving and learning from the works of other artists. On a number of occasions, Watt stood side by side with renowned regional and international artists to expose their wide variety of art works for public viewing.
He has chosen the name ‘Nawita’ meaning Octopus to name their group of talented artists. The name Nawita was given to bring significance to the many arms of the Octopus which in turn signifies the many hands of the group working together as one to build their career on art. “I am glad and proud to continue my work as an artist to this day and watch as new, emerging young artists stand up to showcase their work in the art gallery,” Watt said with a smile.
Watt added, “Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. Young people with talents of drawing, painting, carving and taking photos need to put use of their talents to work, if school doesn’t help them then training their abilities and skills into art will surely benefit and guarantee them to having a brighter future. Arts and culture are powerful tools in which to engage communities in various levels of change.”
A little about Kava:
Kava is a beverage or extract that is made from Piper methysticum, a plant native to the western Pacific islands. The name “kava” comes from the Polynesian word “awa,” which means bitter. In the South Pacific, kava is a popular social drink, similar to alcohol in Western societies. More recently, kava has received widespread attention for its relaxing and stress-reducing properties.
Pacific Islanders have used it for hundreds of years as a ceremonial drink to promote a state of relaxation. Pacific cultures traditionally use the kava drink during rituals and social gatherings. To make it, people first grind its roots into a paste. This grinding was traditionally performed by chewing the roots and spitting them out, but now it’s typically done by hand. The paste is then mixed with water, strained and consumed.