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Queen Of England Enjoys Our Fijian Art

  The British Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, got a taste of iTaukei culture during her visit to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia in
29 Jan 2017 11:00
Queen Of England Enjoys Our Fijian Art
The Queen observes the Adi Yeta canoe during the ‘Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific’ exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia in Norwich yesterday. Photo: The Royal Family / Twitter

 

The British Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, got a taste of iTaukei culture during her visit to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia in Norwich yesterday.

Two floors of the Centre showcased original pieces of Fijian artefacts on loan from museums across the United Kingdom, from the Fiji Museum and from other collectors.

What really grabbed the Queen’s attention was the Adi Yeta, the double-hulled canoe crafted by the head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Fiji National University, Joji Misaele.

The eight-metre long canoe was built specially for the ‘Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific’ exhibition which was opened by President Major-General (Retired) Joji Konrote on October 15 last year.

The exhibit will run until February 12.

The exhibit was eventually detoured to the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, which were held at Home Park at the grounds of Windsor Castle in May last year.

Mr Misaele, who had met the Queen during the birthday celebrations, said it was an honour to have created a centrepiece that has attracted English royalty and thousands of people from around the world.

The exhibition is the largest and most comprehensive exhibition about Fiji ever assembled in the United Kingdom.

Mr Misaele was in Norwich for three weeks last October to help in the set-up of the double-hulled canoe.

Yesterday, as the Queen got out of her car at the Centre, two iTaukei warriors dressed in traditional garb welcomed her along with the resounding beat of the lali.

UK reports said: “Despite the 4C temperature, the underdressed islanders had waited patiently to welcome the Queen to an exhibition about ‘Fiji: Art and Life in the Pacific.’”

One of them was Josateki Cokanasiga, a London-Irish rugby player.

The Queen was later greeted by the university’s vice-chancellor Professor David Richardson and the Fijian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Jitoko Tikolevu.

After shaking her hand, Mr Tikolevu knelt down on one knee and clapped his hands three times.

“It is a sign of respect for the royal family only,” he told People website.

“The choir performed a traditional Fijian song called ‘Lily of the Valley’ a tune Mr Tikolevu said the Queen knew well.

“She shed a tear when the choir sang it for her at the Royal Windsor Horse Show last year for her 90th birthday,” the People website reported.

The Queen is said to have very fond memories of Fiji.

Fiji was one of the first countries visited by Queen in 1953 (who was newly-crowned at the time), where she received a ceremonial tabua, which she saw included in the displays at the exhibition.

She also watched a video showing herself and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, in Fiji in 1953.

Other original pieces on display include the breastplate used by Ratu Tanoa. The breastplate was a gift from Ratu Seru Cakobau to Sir Arthur Gordon.

The exhibition includes a wide range of sculptures, textiles, ceramics, ornaments, bowls, weapons and clothing from late 18th century Fiji.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

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