Sketching in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea was the perfect place for one of my favourite travel pastimes, sketching. There’s no better way of really looking at things than by trying to draw them, and it’s a great way to meet the locals. Many times they would stand around watching me draw, and voice their approval looking through my sketch book with vocal clicks.

My first full day in PNG was spent at the Rabaul Hotel. Despite Rabaul being one of the safest parts of the country both the hotel and guides for the tour I started the following day advised me against walking around the town alone. With no one around to accompany me (the rest of group arrived a day after me) I was basically stuck in Rabaul Hotel.

At least this was probably the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at to while away a day though exploring the history (including Japanese WW2 tunnels), talking to the locals (an engineering inspector from Port Moresby, the hugely entertaining hotel owner Susie, local shipping business men, and hotel staff), and doing some drawing, starting with one of the hotel buildings by the pool.

I then headed into reception to sketch with colour pencils a couple of the fabulous masks.

The next day we headed to the wonderful Duke of York Islands, a magical place, where I passed the late afternoon talking to the home stay owner and drawing one of his buildings that we were staying in.

In Kokopo a few days later I drew another one of the Home Stay buildings, from a photograph and less successfully.

I was in Kokopo for three days of the PNG National Mask Festival, in which 50 groups performed traditional dances. I’ve never taken so many photos in that period of time, a few of which made good references for these sketches.

Final sketch of the trip was of St Francis Xavier ‘Kuragaga’ Cathedral in Rabaul, one of the few surviving buildings of the 1994 volcanic eruptions.

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