Museum exhibition reveals links between Plymouth and the South Pacific

A world cultures exhibition at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery is exploring the surprising connections the city has with Polynesia.

Fiji: Ocean Connections’ is a collaboration between the Museum and Art Gallery and the Fijian Art Research Project. The initiative, which is supported by the Arts and Heritage Research Council, has seen experts from the University of East Anglia and the University of Cambridge explore important museum collections of Fijian art throughout the UK.

More than 100 objects have travelled to the Museum from Fiji since the late 1800s and, some of which are on display for the very first time as part of the exhibition. Visitors can view barkcloths, weapons, shells and jewellery, as well as discover the results of the Fijian Art Research Project’s findings.

The exhibition also explores how the ocean is fundamental to life on Fiji – an independent country consisting of more than 330 islands, situated in the South Pacific Ocean. Topics include traditional artistic skills, customs and beliefs, patriotism and gender.

Deputy Council Leader Peter Smith said: “As Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth was founded and thrives on its connections with the ocean. Over the centuries, people have embarked from here to explore and trade and have gathered objects to bring back. It’s fascinating to see some of the items that have come from Fiji on display.

“As well as highlighting aspects of island life and showing the complexity and beauty of Western Polynesian art and culture, this exhibition also highlights how Plymouth and Fiji are both separated and connected by some 12,000 miles of ocean.”

Fiji: Ocean Connections is open from 10am to 5.30pm Tuesday to Friday and 10am to 5pm on Saturdays until Thursday 24 December and then again from Saturday 2 to Saturday 16 January. Admission is free.

The Museum will be running an Art Bite talk from 1pm to 1.40pm on Wednesday 13 January, where people can find out more about the exhibition and the traditions and culture of the South Pacific. Admission is free but people are advised to book in advance at the Museum Welcome Desk or by calling 01752 304774.