THE first ever Goroka bilum (string bag) festival kicked off at the RaunRaun Theatre in Goroka, Eastern Highlands province, yesterday.
The show has attracted a good number of bilum weavers, lovers and a team of art exhibitioners from the Pacific Trade Commission.
The festival showcased different bilum styles from the coast to the highlands of PNG. National Performing Arts Troupe (NPAT) director John Doa, who delivered the opening speech, encouraged more bilum festivals in the years to come. He said the show was a rare opportunity to showcase hidden talents of bilum makers and different styles found in PNG.
The show, which got off to a slow start, is expected to attract more people and tourists who are flocking into Goroka for the annual Goroka show that starts this weekend. Festival organiser Florence Jaukae said they have poems, legends, history, displays of traditional twines and dye bilum wear contest and bilum as carrier bags competitions. The show attracted three international visitors from the Pacific Trade Commission (PTC) which Ms Jaukae described as “very important”.
She said their visitors would promote the festival at international exhibitions which would attract overseas tourists to future bilum festivals in Goroka. The PTC group were Louisa Sifakula (trade marketing manageress) from New Zealand, Ruth Choulai (creative industry manager) from Sydney, Australia, and Giles Peterson a curator and lecturer at Whitecliff College of Art and Design in Auckland, New Zealand.
Mr Peterson, who was born in Port Moresby in 1969, applauded the festival saying it has huge potential to become bigger in the years to come. “The Goroka bilum festival is showing the real inside of what PNG is all about. “We came here to meet PNG artists and see what we can do to help market their potential overseas and in exhibitions,” Mr Peterson told The National.