Berrysmith Foundation

Arts & crafts

Thursday, December 12, 2013
The weather is definitely changing and more planning has to go into when or how to certain jobs to make the most of the weather conditions, although you don’t always have options. The other night the weather gods appeared to have a big argument; a big and very loud thunderstorm must have kept most of the people of Samoa awake and filled the rain gage at Afiamalu almost to the rim with 145 mm in 4 hours! In the morning most of this water was taken up by the free draining soil, only a couple of beds had been washed out by the amount of water.

It has not been a happy month for the Samoan sport; Manu (team) Samoa didn’t get far in the rugby games, and the sudden passing of the well respected rugby legend Peter Fatialofa kept the media busy for over two weeks. Much hope was on a happy ending for boxer David Tua fight but that was also not meant to be. Playing sports is a big part of living in Samoa, many open fields are almost daily used for a game of rugby, soccer or kilikiti; the Samoan cricket version, just don’t ask me about the rules of this game; you have to be Samoan to understand them. There are also many volleyball courts here, again the Samoans make up their own rules, so sometimes there are 15 players on each side and 3 balls flying over the net, still looks like good fun. 

Arts and crafts have always interested me and for the past month I have been practising some Samoan arts & crafts. The screen printing on fabric is very popular in Samoa; everyone has a garment that involved screen printing on fabric either for business, community group or personal clothing. The technique is very simple; beautiful carved wooden boards are covered with a thin layer of paint before the fabric is put on top and pressed into the paint/board, the fabric is taken off the board and another layer of paint goes on before the blank fabric is carefully put on the board again making sure it matches up with the previous print.

But some of the arts that used to be so common here are dying out; a couple of years ago Women In Business has revitalised the art of fine mat weaving and documentary maker Galumalemana Steve Percival noticed on his travels around Samoa that there are no traditionally build fales on the island anymore. So he found some older people who had helped building traditional fales in their younger days, and some keen people who are interested in learning this skill and after 2 month’s building Steve has a beautiful traditional build fale on his property.

Using the many easily available lava rocks & river stones as a foundation, wooden posts for the frame work and tatch is used for roofing and weaving the blinds. Sennit is used instead of nails to hold it all together. Sennit is made out of coconut fibre and is very strong and doesn’t deteriorate in salt water. In the ‘olden days’ men would sit together discussing the village issues and rolling/weaving the Sennit fibres into a string, similar to a ladies knitting gathering.

Earlier this month international chef Robert Oliver presented the art of cooking Samoan food with the launch of his mea’ai samoa cook book that followed the TV series Real Pacific broadcasted in New Zealand, Tapatapao farm was used as a film location for the Samoan episode. I’m sure going the miss the abundance of food I enjoy at the moment when I leave Samoa at the end of December. Some of you have been asking me where I will be going next; all I can say about that at the moment is that my days of travelling appear not over yet. 

Festive December greetings to you all from Samoa.

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