Googong Village Masthead
Jewellery Training Program Team in Mt. Hargen, PNG_feature

Cross cultural exchange for PNG entrepreneurs

Helena Game

Five female entrepreneurs from Papua New Guinea are set to bring their artistic skills to Canberra. 

This Tuesday 28 February, artists from Papua New Guinea will present a networking event at Nishi Gallery, to showcase their unique textiles and connect with the creative community in Canberra.

Representing the Bilum Export and Promotion Association (BEPA), Maria Kalap, Joyce Moiwo, Sharlene Gawi, Susan Dua and Gilda Lasibori will be here as part of an Australian tour, in partnership with the International Trade Centre, (ITC) with funding from DFAT.

Fringe necklace and earrings

Fringe necklace and earrings

Hosted by ITC consultant and Canberra entrepreneur and designer Bronwyn Blue, the evening will be a space for cross-cultural exchange and mutual education in the artistic world.

Established in 2015, BEPA aims primarily to promote the traditional handicraft of bilum, a style of weaving native to PNG. However, the association also has the wider goal to help women achieve economic empowerment through their entrepreneurial pursuits, allowing them to contribute to the international market using their cultural heritage.

Bronwyn, who owns Cambodian-based design company Beyond, says she knows first hand that collaboration can lead to success in the business world.

Jewellery Development at Mt. Hargen

Jewellery Development at Mt. Hargen

“No woman is an island, and ideas don’t come out of thin air,” she explains. “Collaboration has been a key part of my business success and I believe that by introducing the women of BEPA to Canberra’s designers and entrepreneurs, we will be able to initiate some successful partnerships.”

“We want visitors to the event to be excited about experimenting with the BEPA weaving techniques to create some gorgeous products across a range of products, from fashion [and] jewellery to homewares and sculptural art,” she says.

Product Development Training with weavers in Mt. Hargen, PNG

Product Development Training with weavers in Mt. Hargen, PNG

While in Canberra, the artists will also be meeting with institutions including CIT as part of ITC’s Ethical Fashion Initiative, and the National Gallery of Australia, to create connections within the fashion and art industries at an institutional level.

The event will also give exposure to a story that may never have been told, says Bronwyn.

Lampshade product development, Port Moresby, PNG

Lampshade product development, Port Moresby, PNG

“Due to geographical remoteness of many of these communities, the voices, designs and ideas of those weavers may have never been known to us here.”

“BEPA is a democratic organisation that gives each woman a voice, and the confidence to be part of a quality value chain. In that process, comes the learning that gives each of us the confidence to move forward.”

the essentials

What: BEPA and WEAV Networking Event
When: Tuesday 28 February from 5.30-8.30pm
Where: Nishi Gallery, Kendall Lane, NewActon
Web: www.facebook.com/bilumpng

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Helena Game

Helena is a wannabe journalist studying Communications and Journalism at the University of Canberra. Canberra born and bred, she is hopelessly in love with writing, stories and travel. She recently wrote her way around Japan for a creative writing study tour, and spent another two weeks in the Middle East on a journalism exchange, both of which have left her with a proper case of the post-travel blues. While she plots her next adventure, Helena is hoping to gain as much industry experience as humanly possible, and somehow finish her degree at the same time. More about the Author

  • Alexandra Freeman

    Love this!