by ROWENA OREJANA
Sacred art transcends culture and shows the universality of the Church, according to two artists from the Solomon Islands.

Artist and studio director Michael Pervan watches as Solomon Islands artists  Stephen Maetora (left) and Liborio Maemauri work on their icons.
Artist and studio director Michael Pervan watches as Solomon Islands artists Stephen Maetora (left) and Liborio Maemauri work on their icons.

Liborio Maemauri, 43, and his nephew, Stephen Maetora, 24, came to New Zealand to study
sacred art, having no idea of the depth of the genre they would be learning.
“It’s big. It’s a totally new art for us, iconography. It’s hard to do for the first time. As you can see, we are still struggling with our first icon,” Mr Maetora said with a laugh.
The uncle and nephew duo will be the first to bring this art form to the Solomon Islands. Under the tutelage of artist Michael Pervan, director of the Studio of St John the Baptist, the pair plan to bring this art to the islands.
“This art, as I see, is the belief of the Catholic Church. For me, my idea is the only [Solomon Islands perspective] I’ll put with this is like a small background,” said Mr Maemauri.
Mr Pervan shared their view. “[What they will make] will inevitably carry native Solomon Island perspective, but will also be in line with the Church’s art tradition, which is above culture.
“These images, therefore, are appealing to all races. This has been our actual experience,” he said.
The uncle and nephew team have done a lot of artwork in churches in the Solomon Islands,
but nothing like this, they said.
“This will be unique,” said Mr Maemauri.
They were brought to New Zealand for the month-long workshop with Mr Pervan by Caritas- Mahitahi director Christina Reymer and Honiara Archbishop Adrian Smith.
Mr Pervan said the archbishop came to see him after the bishops’ conference last year, “and he wanted to see what could be done for a new cathedral over there in terms of artwork. Rather than me going over there, I offered to him, if he sends two of his artists over
here, I will teach them all I know.
“They can go back with the knowledge and then do the work for him.”
Thus the idea of establishing a Pacific Studio of St John the Baptist was born. “This is an example of giving a hungry man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach himhow to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. This is good missionary behaviour,” he added.
He said the two artists are worth the investment.
“The talent is there. They have a place there to work from. Now all we need is for The Lord to provide them what they need to make it happen. And there have been some very generous people who assisted them already,” said Mr Pervan.
A wine and cheese evening was held at the studio in Takapuna on March 21 to help raise funds for the artists.

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