by Frances Lennard.
We were fortunate to receive follow-on funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to continue our Pacific barkcloth project this year – the funding was intended to help us to take our research to a wider audience. We originally planned to hold barkcloth workshops in five museums around the UK earlier in 2020, but the advent of coronavirus led us to change our plans, as it has affected so much this year. Instead we held five online sessions in early September, with almost 100 people attending. It was a huge bonus that this enabled us to reach a wide audience with participants from the Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Japan as well as from museums and the Pacific community in the UK. The workshops were organised by Dr Katrina Igglesden, the project’s research associate, and were led by Katrina with our colleagues, barkcloth practitioners Reggie Meredith Fitiao and S’ua Tupuola Uilisone Fitiao from American Samoa.
Judicious timing meant that it was possible for us all to take part despite the 12 hours’ time difference between the UK and American Samoa, though this meant early mornings and late nights for all. Colleagues from some of our partner museums, National Museum of Scotland, the Horniman Museum and Gardens, The Royal Pavilion and Museums in Brighton and Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, also contributed to the sessions.
Having brought together a community of people interested in Pacific tapa, we were keen to keep the conversation going and have set up a forum on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pacificbarkclothforum This is just getting off the ground but is intended for anyone with an interest in Pacific barkcloth – all contributions: images, information and questions are welcome. You can also follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/UofG_Barkcloth/ or search for us on the app using the handle @UofG_Barkcloth) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/pacifictapa/ or search for us on the app using the handle @pacifictapa).
I’m also delighted that our new barkcloth website is now launched. [https://tapa.gla.ac.uk]. Information is still being added, but there are lots of resources there already, including some wonderful videos about making and decorating tapa which Reggie and Uilisone have made for us. These give a real insight into the significance of this artform and a wonderful glimpse of their tropical surroundings. [https://tapa.gla.ac.uk/videos/]
A further outcome of the project will be an edited book which includes chapters from members of the project team and the wider barkcloth community. It will be published by Sidestone Press in December, just about in time for Christmas! https://www.sidestone.com/books/material-approaches-to-polynesian-barkcloth.
With many thanks to all the many contributors to the barkcloth project over the last five years, especially to Katrina Igglesden, who has worked so hard on this latest phase.