For seven days in August at Lela Beach, near Honiara in the Solomon Islands, artisans celebrated an historic milestone: The Guadalcanal Weaving Festival.
This festival celebrated the traditional and contemporary weaving skills of Guadalcanal women and men, the significance of weaving to their culture and the diversity of weaving practices present across the 21 Wards of the Guadalcanal Province.
The Weaving Festival shone a light on the unique weaving talents of women artisans in the region, and aimed to help the women gain access to sustainable markets for their goods.
Connecting rural or isolated artisans with a marketplace for their wares is a real challenge. Debbie Lukisi, a Solomon Islands women and member of the Guadalcanal Weaving Festival Committee, is a passionate advocate for rural women artisans. Debbie understands first hand the difficulty many women have selling their wares. As a child Debbie watched her relatives struggle to sell their products in town each day, and as result they struggled to make enough money to send their children to school. Women that earn a regular income can provide for their families, send their children to school and ultimately improve the health and prosperity of the whole community.
Debbie began the ROTA Weaving Association to bring together talented weavers of the surrounding communities of Guadalcanal Highlands and celebrate their unique weaving practices and market their wares. From intricate baskets woven with coconut leaf, to bowls and plates, boxes and bags, the women are skilled artisans and pass their knowledge and technique down to the younger generations. Practising this art form preserves tradition and binds families and communities together.
Pacific Artisan is very excited to support the women and communities of Guadalcanal by sharing their message and connecting artisans to global customers!
On a final note, please take time this Christmas, as you search for a gift for your loved ones, to consider where your gifts are made, and by whom. Are the makers receiving a fair income for their work? Your actions can change lives, so support small producers this holidays and weave some magic into your family’s Christmas.