Far Side of the World: Torquay's Fijian Connection

Far Side of the World: Torquay's Fijian Connection

When: 25 January 2021 to 24 April 2021
Where: Perigal Room
Time: 10.00 am - 4.00 pm
Cost: Normal Admissin Charges Apply Booking Essential
Suitable for: Any age

In a time of limited travel, be transported to the far side of the world and learn about the fascinating history, traditions and crafts of Fiji. Discover the Torquay’s links to these remote pacific islands through the Museum's rich collection of objects, and the stories of the collectors who brought them to Torquay.

“Torquay is a beautiful place. The palms and the tropical trees, the broken formation of the coast and the undulating land remind me of home. Torquay is more like Fiji than anything else I have seen since I left for England.” Ratu Veli, Roko Tui Macueta or Native Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Macuata, Fiji. Torquay, June 16, 1924.

Torquay Museum’s important collection of art and artefacts from nineteenth century Fiji were left by three collectors, who had all worked in the colony: Adolph Brewster, Arthur Ogilvie and the Hon. Charles Swayne. Despite having no previous connection to Torquay, two of these men retired to the palm-filled seaside town, and all three left their significant collections to the Museum. Perhaps the 'palms' and 'undulating land' mentioned by a visiting Fijian official in the early twentieth century reminded them of life in their former home.

Although Europeans discovered the Fiji in 1643, explorers avoided contact with the islands because of the reputation for warfare. This exhibition contains weapons and tokens of tribal conflict, but also reveals how communities lived in peacetime, forming alliances and friendships through the exchange of valued objects.

This exhibition is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of The Fijian Art Research Project in conjunction with the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) at the University of Cambridge.

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