An Artistic Marathon To Help Others

Journey Through The Stains - a live performance with iconic visual artists Jeffry Feeger, Ratoos Gary, former Tambaran Band member Pius Wasi, Paul Yabo, former member of the Sanguma Band and fellow musicians and a young PNG poet, Marie-Rose Sau.

I was really privileged to be at the Royal Papua Yacht Club on the evening of Wednesday, 22nd February, 2012 to witness a live performance of the group called ‘Journey Through The Stains’.

The live performance featured  the inimitable Ratoos Gary and Jeffry Feeger visual artists, Pius Wasi and musicians in the tradition of the awesome Sanguma, and of course Marie-Rose, a young PNG a poet whom I wrote about in my blog yesterday.

Pius, Paul and the musicians who were part of the live performance of 'Journey Through The Stains' at the Royal Papua Yacht Club.

Apart from ‘official’ guests, and the usual RPYC suspects, also gathered there were family and friends in support of the artists and the cause. I was there with two of my colleagues. One of them was there as the ‘official photographer’ for the event.

Ratoos in his element. As the picture evolved there was an awed silence as the artist went to work. I thought at first that there were going to be two paintings but as before both Jeffry and Ratoos worked on one with Ratoos laying the foundation and background as seen here.

This event was a fundraiser featuring a number of different things. The live performanc was an event within an event.  One feature was the sponsorship by Bemobile, one of the mobile phone companies in PNG, and another was the combination or brilliant fusion of visual art, music and poetry. We also had raffle draws so it was all a mixture of fun things but also deeply meaningful.

Upon entering the RPYC I almost did not get in because the man at the door was doing his job which means if your name is not on the guest list you’re not welcome. Fortunately, a number of positive factors came into play and I found myself warmly received by a kind young lady who works for Bemobile.

So what and who are ‘Journey Through The Stains’? I’ve taken the following description from their page on Facebook:

 “’Journey Through the Stains’. We are a troupe of performing Papua New Guinean Contemporary artists experimenting with a fusion of traditional and contemporary music, art and culture. Through our heightened artistic sensitivity, coupled with a deep appreciation and understanding of traditional spiritual cultural knowledge we use the creation process to become journeymen through a mystical communion with nature and the spirits. We believe that our collaboration through ceremony provides a way for others to share in our religious experience.”

The objective of the evening’s event, a brainchild of ‘Journey Through The Stains’ was to raise funds for the relatives of those who perished in the recent MV Rabaul Queen tragedy. This was a very noble cause, supported by RPYC and Bemobile – the RPYC as the host and Bemobile came with the goodies for the fundraiser.  

I went along because of the splash on their Facebook page and also because I enjoyed the live performance of the two visual artists at last year’s fundraiser at the Moresby Arts Theatre with Jerry Hensen.

Actually, this kind of live performance is quite unique and you’ll see why when you follow these photos. It’s an evolving kind of spiritual engagement between mind, body and soul.

Ratoos at work laying the foundations with his unmistakable style. His artwork is currently on display at the Australian High Commission with an Australian artist John Gould, to celebrate Australia Week.

On their Facebook page on 22nd February, 2012 was the following entry:

“We are performing   tonight Wed 22nd Feb at the Royal Papua Yacht Club, in what will be a defining moment for us! An opportunity to raise funds for the families of our lost brothers and sisters on the Rabaul Queen ship tragedy. The air will be thick with the creative exchanges of art, music and poetry.”

As soon as it got dark the event began. Quietly and without fanfare, Ratoos started painting. He used his hands and the paint brush. As the music played, the canvas came alive and Ratoos began with his brush strokes and finger ‘etchings’. As his painting took shape I was sure that people must have been wondering where this was leading to. Even the Club patrons who stopped to watch as the painting progressed.

I kind of guessed it was going to be the background first by Ratoos and then Jeffry layering it with his own artistic expression. A similar live performance to the one with Jerry Hensen last July/August.

This was indeed an artistic marathon. Not only did Ratoos and Jeffry initiate and complete the event, the musicians also as the musical tunes accompanied the painting from start to finish – from Ratoos to Jeffry.

An incredible journey through stains and music. It was a kind of magical evening and when the picture began to take shape it reminded us what the live performance was for. The artists took us with them especially as we neared the grand finale.

The painting was completed in a rather dramatic fashion, but appropriate nothetheless, when Jeffry threw down the paintbrush!

The finished painting! Absolutely amazing. You can actually see the paintbrush near the painting. The painting itself was incredible.

That was the end of what was the most unique form of entertainment: a live performance of determined and passionate visual artists at work who by the way looked like they too were enjoying the music, and the positive energy from those who came to witness the live performance.

I call it an ‘artistic marathon’ because the painters and musicians were true to their craft until the end when the painting was completed. Usually an artist will revisit his/her work to tweak bits here and there to get it to perfection in their view. But this was a start to finish in one session. Indeed an artistic marathon.

It was a wonderful evening and I really enjoyed the evolution of artistic prowess in one sitting. This is absolutely amazing. 

The ‘Journey Through The Stains’ troupe brought the arts to the people and the people responded. This unique live performance is the first in PNG and am not sure if this is done anywhere else in the Pacific Region.

A similar artistic marathon happened last year I think about July/August at the Moresby Arts Theatre, as previously mentioned, when Jeffry Feeger, Ratoos Gary, Laben Sakale and Jerry Hensen took to the canvas to raise funds to help Jerry Hensen trek the Kokoda Trail to raise awareness for the blind. The paintings were auctioned as they were finished! It was an amazing event and truly innovative, and out-of-the-box kind of stuff .

The ‘marathon’ live performance concept itself is mind-blowing.

It was truly a memorable evening and live performance. I came away thinking – these guys are not only giants in their art but also great humanitarians. Extraordinary Papua New Guineans sharing their talents for the benefit of other extraordinary Papua New Guineans. They may not think of themselves as ‘extraordinary’ but in my eyes and heart – they truly are, because by their actions, they are in service for mankind. Shouldn’t we all be too?