On a windy night in early January, 2015 a collection of Fijian artists gathered at the once bustling old Suva hospital, turned make shift art studio in Tamavua.

Among the topics of conversation over many bowls of kava was the idea for an art and photo exhibition to showcase our beautiful Fijian environment. Thus begun months of creativity and hard work amongst some of Fiji’s finest artists as they looked towards our coasts and seas sought their inspiration from nature.

At the same time, the Wildlife Conservation Society held a photo competition for four months on our new Vatu-i-Ra Seascape website www.fijiseascape.com

Photographers from Fiji and around the world were encouraged to submit photos to the following categories: underwater seascapes, seascape critters, coastal landscapes and culture and livelihoods. Over 300 beautiful photos were submitted, with the finalists selected by a panel of judges: The Fiji Times Chief Photographer Eliki Ravutia, Mai Life Magazine Editor Wame Valentine and University of the South Pacific Communications Consultant Sarika Chand.

On 24 June His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau officially opened the art and photo exhibition which saw over 30 Fijian artists produce 75 pieces which showcased the raw beauty of the Vatu-i-Ra Seascape.

The President said that the Fijian Government has reaffirmed its commitment towards protecting Fiji’s territorial waters of not less than 30 percent by the year 2020 by designating inshore marine areas under local marine area management.

The art and photo exhibition was held at the Fiji Museum and over 1100 people visited the venue which saw artists paint acrylic and oil on canvas, carving on slate and on other mediums such as masi (traditional bark cloth). The four main winners of the photo competition were displayed.
Delivering his key note address, the Fijian Head of State said, “We are already witnessing the consequences of ignoring the environment with the impact of climate change and rising sea levels threatening people’s livelihoods not only here in Fiji but throughout the Pacific.

The collection of emerging and established artists included Mere Rasue, Mason Lee, Irami Buli, Viliame Vosabeci, Tomasi Domomate, Alifereti Malai, Reape Tuitokova, Veresa Naceno, Isoa Codrokadroka, Zhivargo Hill, Peceli Masidole, Jone Masirewa, Ulamila Bulamaibau, Helen Southwick, Vilimone Daunabuna and Sireli Vaganalau.

WCS-Fiji Country Director Dr. Sangeeta Mangubhai added that the exhibition combined the winning images from the campaigns photo contest alongside acrylic and oil on canvas as well as carvings to creatively express our relationship as Fijians with nature.