The garland as a symbol of welcome is particularly strong in the Pacific. The role of the broader Pacific community is especially important when someone is devastated by a natural tragedy, as occurred with Cyclone Winston on 14 February 2016. It’s natural that we turn to the garland as a source of support at this time.
This is a statement by Johanna Beasley (Visual Arts Coordinator at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies, Suva, Fiji):
Cyclone Winston Salusalu (Fijian Garland)
The day after the cyclone the silence was frightening.
The wind no longer howled and it seemed the world had a curfew, not just Suva.
I was fortunate I had a roof over my head .
My garden was scattered with debris and there was a tree lying over my power line .All power lines had been disconnected as a safety measure when the cyclone hit.
I was fortunate unlike so many other islanders and locals who had felt the full brunt of Winston.
Several days after the cyclone when I returned to work, it was decided we would have a fundraiser for those affected by Cyclone Winston. We decided to have dance and musical performances and to auction clothes donations and artworks to raise money for those affected by cyclone.
I made several artworks then I decided I would make a traditional salusalu .
I decided to use cuttings from the local papers to replace the usual flowers.
I used a traditional vau base, and formed the flowers using Winston Cyclone newspaper clippings. I used the headings to hang between the flowers. I followed a traditional format.
The making of this salusalu was a very cathartic process, and helped me process my experience as single person living through what had been a cyclone unlike any that had come to Fiji .Certainly a night I will not forget.
See Tessa Miller’s contribution to the Second Home exhibition for information about how you can support the reconstruction effort in Fiji.