Going for the Gold

The Gold for Melanesian Artists

It was thrilling to see Melanesian athletes participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. My heartfelt congratulations to Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia for participating in the Olympics. I was so proud to see each and every country walk proudly with flags flying and attire designed in their individual custom patterns. A huge congrats to Fiji for winning the Gold in Rugby. So exciting! You all should take a look at the participants and which sport they competed in. Impressive!!!

Personally, I wish to give Gold to the eight artists who shared their creativity and inspiration in the magazine story. Each have been delivered their own hardcopy of the publication to hold in their hands. Thank you, Alicia Sahib and everyone who helped to distribute them. In addition, thank you for sharing photos so I can share with my supporters.

“I received the magazine and thank you so, so much ….appreciate what you’ve done and the passion that led you on that path to create the piece and connect the dots with the painting…I can understand and appreciate why you wanted me to do some work on the sea. You did manage to acknowledge and identify some very talented artists from our reagion  … and give them a platform.
I also have been able to share … the story with some of Tony’s children and, his boy, Regulus, came over for the weekend … yes he was happy, he was surprised to see he was just looking through the magazine and happened to come across his Daddy’s portrait and his Daddy’s painting….just very, very beautiful moment. It really was a very significant and meaningful thing and the fact that Tony’s work was celebrated in that way.”         — Jeffry Feeger

 

 

Tony Wesley-Evennett and Jeffry were the best of friends. I’m excited to see the latest work by Jeffry in celebration of the sea. 
Gazellah Bruder

Waxie Noah Kawatalu

Michael Jeremiah Bolokon

Jackson Diosi

Emmanuel Manu Wainini

Julie Ann Fakaia

John Wayne

The Mytinger Project is looking forward to sharing more stunning art by and for the Melanesian Contemporary Art Community.

 

A Shout of Thanks!

To all the participating artists for the magazine story “The Ocean Arts of Melanesia.”  A special thanks to Alicia Sahib who has not only supported my work over the years but is a strong proponent of organizations that deal with social issues, poverty, violence and yes, THE ARTS.

I had a box of hard copies of the magazine for distribution to each artist who appears in the story. There is nothing like holding your own magazine and turning each page. Alicia not only is handling this quite challenging task but is also gifting a copy to a number of dignitaries in both Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. I hope to receive more photos of the artists WITH their own copy.

Tony Wesley-Evennett

Box delivered!!! Thank you, Alicia and Bank South Pacific. Note the photo from inside the bank headquarters in Port Moresby. They used many of my images

in their decor!  I would like to acknowledge David Conn next to Alicia. Thank you, my friends!

I’m proud to see this list with special notes from Alicia to:

United States Ambassador to Papua New Guinea/Solomon Islands

Australia High Commissioner

Prime Minister James Marape

Director of Tourism Authority/PNG

Governor Gary Juffa

Assist Governor, Motu Koitabu Assembly, Junior Dadi Toka

Minister of Justice Bryan Kramer

Additional copies were sent to Honiara, Solomon Islands.

 

Now you understand why I’m wishing all dad’s a Happy Father’s Day. Here in the U.S. it’s June 20 (September in Australia/Melanesia). Waxie Noah Kawatalu, the perfect parent, teaches his own children and many others in the community to use their “creative sides” to tell stories through art.

For friends who live in Australia, there will be a special screening of the documentary film at Bundanoon Winterfest on July 10. Follow the link to the scheduled time and more information.

 

Dear friend Lynne Ainsworth will open the screening with stories of her own family’s rich and historic ties to Papua New Guinea. Lynne is an accomplished writer AND a huge supporter of Headhunt Revisited: With Brush, Canvas and Camera. I certainly wish I could time with Lynne in beautiful Bundanoon, Australia.

From this newsletter, I hope you understand my passion for their talent and appreciate their creations. You can also go to the Headhunt Revisited Facebook page, “like” it and join me in celebrating art that crosses oceans and decades.

Because there is no compensation for this story, I’m asking you to consider donating to a charitable organization. The three identified here are close – VERY CLOSE.

Max Benjamin Legacy Fund in Kimbe Bay

Solomon Islands | Plan International (plan-international.org)

https://www.belisipng.org.pg/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marine Art – Part II

A continuation of celebrating Melanesian artists and the marine environment! This second announcement  continues to share with you four incredibly talented artists from the Solomon Islands. Recently published in Ocean Geographic Society’s magazine is a story I’ve been working on for the past year. This was a collaboration with many friends and, more important, this generation of contemporary artists who ARE Melanesian!

 

From this newsletter, I hope you understand my passion for their talent and appreciate their creations. You can also go to the Headhunt Revisited Facebook page, “like” it and join me in celebrating art that crosses oceans and decades.

Because there is no compensation for this story, I’m asking you consider donating to a charitable organization recommended by the U.S. Consular Agent in Honiara. Plan International is one of the world’s oldest and largest child rights development agencies. They work in over 70 countries around the world to tackle the root causes of poverty, inequality and injustice. Their mission is to strive for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls – working together with children, young people, which supports and partners to achieve change. Plan International is independent, with no religious affiliation.
They are working closely with local partners such as HCC, YWCA, Live and Learn Solomon and SIDT.

Solomon Islands | Plan International (plan-international.org)

Marine Art At Its Best

Just published in Ocean Geographic Society’s magazine is a story I’ve been working on for the past year. This was a collaboration with many friends and, more important, this generation of contemporary artists who ARE Melanesian! Starting with four from Papua New Guinea, this is the journey where I also find my own respect and passion for the people and the ocean they depend upon. Their words of inspiration are included with the art.   

 

 

I will be sending out multiple newsletters, the next one introducing the Solomon Island artists. It’s also hoped to tell you more about each individual creator – what motivates him or her, family and other interests. You can also go to the Headhunt Revisited Facebook page, “like” it and join me in celebrating art that crosses oceans and decades.

Because there is no compensation due to all the COVID problems, I’m asking you consider to donating to these two organizations in Papua New Guinea. Following, there will be an ask for an NGO in Solomon Islands.  Mahonia Na Dari (Guardians of the Sea) is a beloved science research and education center in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea, that was established by Walindi Plantation in 1997 by Max, who passed away last year, and his wife,Cecilie Benjamin. Any and all amounts are greatly appreciated through a Go Fund Me in the name of Max Benjamin Legacy Fund!!!  Follow this link: https://gofund.me/9a37089a
Belisi PNG is an organization making lives better for women. Although my favorite part of the world, PNG is most challenging for women’s lives – even if you are a strong meri. Please view the website and consider helping so many, especially during this difficult time of COVID. Become a member and see where your funding can help:  Member Benefits — Bel isi PNG

A Treasure to Share

I could not be happier than to announce this during Women’s History Month. Just a couple of weeks ago, there were plenty of great moments to share with the followers of Headhunt Revisited: With Brush, Canvas and Camera. Hang on to your seat, because this is the moment I’ve waited for and am now able to share and savor another moment where “Art Spans Oceans and Decades”!

It was 18 months ago when I first heard from Dr. Garrick Hitchcock, the anthropologist from Melbourne University. The May Newsletter spoke to this event with a subsequent post on the blog and social media. If you want to refresh your memory, just down this blog page to “Joy Amidst Hard Times”.

Dr. Hitchcock and I communicated on several occasions and, at the time, he was hoping to get back to the Torres Strait. COVID cancelled his travel until three weeks ago!!! Gwen, the granddaughter of Robin in the portrait Kai-Kai, is currently with her husband in Cairns. Garrick was able to visit with Gwen and Tom and as a gift, he quickly framed a print reproduction of this magnificent painting from 1928. Garrick said she was very emotional, crying and kissing the picture several times. I heard back from Garrick a few days later with a summary of her thoughts and comments.

THIS picture is so precious to me and will be to others, I’m sure. Reunited in spirit and love.

“This is my Athe (grandfather). When he finished working on the boats, he became a church warden. He would blow the bu shell [trumpet shell] to let people know it was time to come to church on Sunday. I remember him as a young girl, I was nine years old when he died. I see he is wearing a yellow labalaba (sarong), he is holding a dagulal (three-pronged fishing spear) and has caught some dangal wap (tusk-fish). I am crying, but I am very happy, he has come home now!” – Gwen Baira

Michele Westmorland photographing “Kai-Kai” painting by Caroline Mytinger. PHMA, Berkeley

With love and kindess for not just one month, but an entire year of celebrating Women’s History!!!

Women of History

It’s difficult to know where to start. March is a big month for Caroline, Margaret and new discoveries.  How about starting with Caroline’s birthday, March 6, 1897? She knew little of her family history until she began communicating with her Aunt Caroline in 1918. As a young woman, Caroline modeled for prestigious illustrators and portrait painters. One in particular was Walter Biggs, whose painting, including her, was used as the cover for Ladies Home Journal in 1920.

As beautiful as she was, Caroline did not have much confidence in herself and in a letter to her aunt wrote:

“As for myself – well, as much as I would love to talk about myself, I’m not in the position to speak. Dear Dad mentioned that I was a sweet little girl, bless him.  Nobody ever accuses me of that nowadays. However, I have a redeeming characteristic – the inclination to work like a trench digger (thank goodness).

When being seen by persons other than myself, I am tall and thin and tall.  I appear to have large feet and orange tresses, which hang around most of the time and make me look like a beastly flamboyant poodle. My eyes are slightly crooked, one being up and the other down.  The profile passes sans violent consternation. That is all I look like – tall, noticeable feet and untraceable eyes and hair.”

Thanks to Mark Hancock, who helped with massive research prior to the film’s release, and brought me his binder full of content. Extremely grateful and even found an item I did not remember. It was a press release by Macmillan Company, which published Caroline’s first book, Headhunting in the Solomon Islands, in 1942.

“Miss Mytinger’s interest in Man as a subject began in her art school days. As a result she flunked all but the life class, and “got kicked out into the lovely world of human models” in her third year at the Cleveland School of Art.”

Caroline was a complicated young woman and did not fit the “norms” of the early 20th Century.

Caroline taking courses in anatomy at Stanford. She did not become a doctor but used this education to learn about the body to improve on her portraits. An interesting way to improve her art??? She WAS unconventional.

Although most of my creative side comes from photography, focused on marine life and culture, I know many of you understand my passion for Melanesia. This has been a difficult time and the first year I have not been able to travel to these magnificent places. The good news is that a live chat with Ocean Geographic Magazine was recently online and recorded. It’s Caroline and Margaret, who taught me the value of engaging with people and understanding their lives depend on the health of the ocean. Today’s contemporary Melanesian artists will be a feature story in April. If you wish to watch the live talk with Michael Aw and Alex Rose, just follow this link:

https://www.facebook.com/OceanGeographic/videos/423782505577390

Celebrating International Women’s Day, I salute Jayne Zanglein, author of The Girl Explorers. The book has just been published and is available on Amazon. It’s “The Untold Story of the Globetrotting Women Who Trekked, Flew, and Fought Their Way Around the World.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Jayne on a Zoom call for The Society of Woman Geographers last October. Link to purchase: https://amzn.to/38eHH44

Jayne also has an amazing website that includes stories of many more “Girl Explorers,” including Caroline and Margaret. Follow this link to learn more.  www.thegirlexplorers.com

Usually, a newsletter is only produced once a month since we all receive so many these days. All are valuable. But keep a watch for another very soon! It will truly be another time for celebration.

 

More Challenging Research

The project still has legs as new information comes in. It’s amazing to watch the “ebb and flow” to Caroline’s story. As you may know, I have been so fortunate to receive original letters written by her and sent to me by the Pillsbury Family!

All of the pages have been photographed and made into PDFs so that I can sit and read them without going back to the originals and putting white gloves on. So much for that idea on several very significant letters from the expedition! Now I’m taking those difficult and delicate pages and transcribing them but it’s a painful process. Just to give you an idea, the image below is just one of about 30 pages. They were done by Caroline with her ragtag typewriter towards the end of her journey when the ribbons were weak and the paper a challenge for her to type on.

Letter from Fly River

I’ve had some wonderful suggestions on how to transcribe these difficult pages. Anymore suggestions?

This part of Caroline and Margaret’s journey was the Fly River Territory. Only a few white men had ever been in this part of Papua New Guinea prior to the 1920s. Can you imagine what it would be like for these two young women? As I try to compare these letters with her book, New Guinea Headhunt, there are so many pieces and parts to the story that could never be included in the 441 page publication. As Caroline expressed in one of the letters, this journal and letters could be a book of its own!

It took me more than two decades of travel to Papua New Guinea before I was able to experience the Fly River and Lake Murray. It is amazing and so is the culture.

Major elder of Usokos Village in the Lake Murray/Fly River Territory of Papua New Guinea.
Body detail, Lake Murray

Please watch for more news as I absorb what Caroline wrote in these extremely important letters.

I’m also preparing for some online presentations with prestigious organisations. Keep a watch for upcoming announcements – and more clips from Caroline’s letters.

Incredibly proud to have a positive review by a member from Oslo University.

“…….Through the pedagogical approach
of revivifying Caroline Mytinger’s works, Michele
Westmorland materializes lives lived before.
Looking back through the lens of filmmaking may
excite biographical insights through its retrieval
of half-forgotten narratives. A portrait maker,
with her palette, brings biography to life. As an
educational asset, the film may stimulate questions
about how the once scientifically endorsed notion
of a ‘type’ – ‘physique’ or ‘character’ – made
its way into both popular and artistic portrayal.”
ARNE RØKKUM Oslo University

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 26, 872-918
© Royal Anthropological Institute 2020
Book and film reviews 903

It is planned to have the entire review placed on the HHR website in the near future

THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!

Best Wishes to All My Supporters!

Although this is a challenging Holiday Season, there are reasons to smile and be thoughtful of others.This newsletter is certainly a reason for me to celebrate. Sharing my personal journey and why I pursued such a difficult project with a younger generation in Papua New Guinea and a gift of original letters written by Caroline, is truly memorable.

2020 Clean Generation Leadership Conference, Port Moresby

The Voice PNG is a youth development organzsation passionate about working with young people and imparting in them the necessary skills to find that inner voice.


We see a world where generations of young people are driven by purpose and are confident in the value of their contribution to their communities, their nation and the world. We have a vision of nations and communities.

Our Vision

  • Not divided by ethnicity, gender and social standing’
  • Where every person can participate fully in the economic, social and political development of        their country; and
  • Where every man and woman can endeavour to make his or her dream come true.

Testimonial

“We were so grateful to have played Michele’s introductory video along with the trailer of the Headhunt Revisted at our 2020 Clean Generation Annual Conference. Michele’s video spoke to the heart of what we wanted our Conference to achieve and that was understanding our value and beauty of our country’s biodiversity and the richness of our culture spoken through the lens of non-Papua New Guineans. Many of the Conference participants have not had the opportunity to travel our country to appreciate the beauty our land and waters so Michele’s presentation was such a wonfderful eye opener for everyone who attended”

–Maliwai Sasingian, Executive Director

You can view Michele’s 20 minute opening presentation given via Zoom by following this link:  https://vimeo.com/489951945

The last newsletter mentioned a special package I received. It has been quite the challenge but so exciting to read many letters that Caroline wrote to Philip W. Pillsbury, Sr. over quite a few years. Some of the letters were even sent from various ports in Melanesia, which I know took weeks for them to be delivered. I’ve spent days with a copy stand, camera system and lights and went through numerous pairs of white cotton gloves for handling archival material. Slowly and delicately, I documented 350 pages of material!!! Most of the letters were typed on Caroline’s 1920s typewriter, which she carried on the expedition. Not all the individual letters on the machine could get ink solidly, and the condition of the letters today makes them challenging to work with.

 

New York. – Photo:  Miss Caroline Mytinger, young American artist at her typewriter.  A gift from Underwood for the Mytinger Project Archives. 1930 just after returning from the expedition.

The next function was to import all the images into my computer so that touching these special pieces of paper would not be more than necessary. I’m still in the process of sorting in an orderly fashion, but not all of these jewels indicate what the year they were written. So it’s a puzzle just waiting for the next piece to fit.The relationship between Caroline and Philip is also a puzzle. Which place did he hold in Caroline’s life? Which place did Margaret fit in her life? It’s still a mystery – to be unfolded.

I want to thank the Pillsbury Family for immediately thinking of the project. I had the great fortune to meet Philip Jr. many years ago while doing research. If you are associating the name with the great flour company of Minnesota and The Doughboy, you are correct.The Pillsbury Family has a long history of success and when I was in corporate life at Burger King Corporation, it just so happened the company I worked for was owned by – guessed right again – the Pillsbury Company!

Portrait of Phlip W. Pillsbury by Caroline Mytinger. From Scrapbook 3, Monterey Museum of Art

In Difficult Times

We all try to look at positive announcements and news. It it extremely challenging with COVID and political issues and it’s not just the United States.This year has proven hard for many friends around the world. Just when I started to feel sorry for myself, I received a copy of a letter Caroline wrote to her aunt over 100 years ago.

The date of this letter is uncanny! October 1918 Flu Pandemic
Thank you to Roger and Carol Stoughton for sending this important image on to me.The Mytinger, Hammaker and Zimmerman families have a wonderful history and are very busy putting their ancestry and stories together for the next generation.
Since the last newsletter, I have been privileged to engage with Michael J. Reinhart, Producer of Whiskey and a Map Podcast and Adventure Travel PhotoJournalist.

Of course where and what would I speak about? Papua New Guinea and Caroline Mytinger. You can listen to the podcast HERE. The discussion is also available on iTunes. Of course, I had a glass of wine in my hands instead of whiskey.

In addition to a little talk, I’ve become better acquainted with a fellow member of the Society of Woman Geographers. Jayne Zanglein developed a project to highlight forgotten women of exploration and I love the title: The Girl Explorers Fighting Discrimination Then and Now. Scheduled for “National Kick Butt Day” and all the women explorers Jayne focused on were just that!!! Just follow the link above to read her blog about my project to celebrate Caroline and Margaret, who were forgotten after their “kick butt” exploration to Melanesia in the 1920s.

“Taupaurapi” circa 1928 by Caroline Mytinger
For the next several weeks, I’ll be spending time on some new information. Just a teaser and will tell you more after I’ve had a chance to photograph, organize and read all in a special package received in mid-October. This is so exciting for me that at least I will be able to divert my attention to the contents!!!

Remembering —

As you all may know, my expedition and project would have never happened without the support of dear friends at https://walindiresort.com/ We lost an amazing man to cancer on July 15th. MAX BENJAMIN, along with his wife, Cecilie, discovered and built one of the most beautiful resorts in the world. A special place in my heart, Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea, is  Mission Blue Hope Spot. It has been recognized as one of the most diverse marine life destinations in the world. We salute Max Benjamin and all that has been done in research and education for ocean environments. Mahonia na Dari (Guardians of the Sea) was established in 1997 and operates from the Walindi Nature Centre. More than 150,000 students, teachers and local community members have established initiates. In addition to MND, Max Benjamin Elementary School was named and established for the local children several years ago. You can read more about the accomplishments of this gentle soul in A Tribute by Dive Magazine UK and written by Editor, Douglas Seifert.

Max and Cecilie Benjamine, Michele, Nancy & Harry Brock and son, Cheyne and Ema. This is family!
Max & Celili Benjamin; me; Nancy & Harry Brock with son, Cheyne & Ema Benjamin. Nancy is the daughter of Dick Doyle, our historian. Family!!!

My last newsletter addressed the needs for small villages surrounding Tufi in another part of Papua New Guinea. Linda Honey, of Tufi Resort and Max Benjamin have been tireless owners and representatives at all the scuba diving trade shows and supporting the local village communities. The Tufi Go Fund Me raised $3000 during these difficult times of COVID and I’m thrilled to have photos of my wantoks and delivery of items through the local trade store. Thank you to all who have been so generous. There are a lot of needs all over the world, but this amount has gone a long way when converted to the PNG currency called Kina. THANK YOU and I will leave the Go Fund Me running for the next couple of weeks.

Supply delivery time!

On a celebratory note, I’d like to acknowledge Dr. Joshua Bell of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He graciously appeared in Headhunt Revisited: With Brush, Canvas and Camera, done years of cultural anthropology field work in Papua New Guinea, of which many of his projects and research have resulted in acknowledgement to indigenous communities to help document and revitalize their languages and traditions. You can read his latest article in Smithsonian Magazine by following this link: How Cellphones Change Societies

Currently, I am working on a story. A bit of a secret right now but it makes me smile. Like this project, it will celebrate art and the ocean. Although the completion is taking longer than expected due to COVID, I’m so excited to be communicating with some extremely talented artists who have powerful voices and creativity. Sneak peek for you!