Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji (6 June 2013 – 19 April 2014) was the first exhibition dedicated to Fijian Art in the UK. It was inspired by MAA’s exceptional collection of Fijian artefacts, photographs and archives, a collection closely linked to the early colonial history of Fiji and the foundation of the Museum. Curated by Anita Herle and Lucie Carreau, Chiefs & Governors was based on extensive research by the members of the Fijian Art research project, led by Steven Hooper and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (see Fijian Art research project and acknowledgements). These webpages provide a complete archive of the exhibition. They include the information panels, an image of every object and photograph alongside detailed labels, and a slide-show of the exhibition.
Baron Anatole von Hügel, MAA’s first curator, travelled within Fiji between 1875 and 1877, a period coinciding with Fiji’s entry into the British Empire. Along with Sir Arthur Gordon (First Governor of Fiji) and Alfred Percival Maudslay (Sir Arthur’s private secretary) and other members of Government House, von Hügel assembled an impressive Fijian collection, including outstanding objects presented by Fijian and Tongan chiefs. Much of this material formed the founding ethnographic collection of the Museum when it opened in 1884 and the Fijian collections have continued to grow until the present day. The opening of the exhibition in June 2013 marked the centenary of the Museum moving to its current building on Downing Street.
Chiefs & Governors introduces important aspects of Fijian art and culture and highlights key moments of Fijian pre-colonial and early colonial history. Combining historical and contemporary objects and installations, Chiefs and Governors emphasises the dynamism and creativity of Fiji.
The catalogue, Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji by Anita Herle & Lucie Carreau, includes contributions by Fergus Clunie, Jocelyne Dudding, Steven Hooper, Katrina Igglesden, Karen Jacobs, Stéphanie Leclerc-Caffarel, Andy Mills and Barbara Wills. It is available for purchase from MAA’s online shop.
★★★★☆, the Independent. Read the review here.