Des O’Sullivan reports on an exhibition showcasing James Glen Wilson.

Work by Belfast- born landscape and marine painter James Glen Wilson (1827-1863), will feature in a large exhibition on Fiji at the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia in Norwich from October 14 to February 12. 

Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1852 to take part in the survey voyage of HMS Herald in the western Pacific, Wilson recorded coastal views and the activities of the survey.

Fiji has a long history of activity and cultural exchanges with canoes transporting goods and people to Tonga, Samoa, and neighbouring Pacific islands since 1,000 BC.

Fijian War Canoes 1856 by James Glen Wilson, watercolour, from the Fiji exhibition in Norwich.
Fijian War Canoes 1856 by James Glen Wilson, watercolour, from the Fiji exhibition in Norwich.

The Europeans arrived in the 19th century, a colonial government was established in 1874 and Fiji became independent in 1970.

The exhibition will highlight sculpture, textiles, ceramics, ivory, and shell regalia, European paintings and photographs. 

Works in the exhibit by James Glen Wilson, who finally settled in Australia, show Fijian war canoes in action and a siege by Christian Fijians of a fortified village.


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