Plumes and Pearlshells


The art of the New Guinea Highlands claims pride of place in this book based on Stanley Gordon Moriarty’s private collection, assembled from his travels in the highlands in the 1960s and 70s.  The elaborate plumes and incandescence pearlshells that inspired the title set a tone of ceremonial flair that permeates the book.

The book displays the beautifully preserved intricate headdresses, textiles and dance masks, created with a finesse of a well-practised tradition passed down through the generations.  Alongside the rare gourd masks, painted shields and shaped spears and arrows, are a selection of black and white images from Moriarty’s photographic archive of the highlanders in the ceremonial garb.  This in-depth display of traditional highland ceremony brings to life the everyday in the delicate and tactile objects.

Now housed at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the book evokes Moriarty’s highly personal collection, driven by passion and fervour to conserve this cultural heritage.  The book is thoughtfully assembled, including an insightful conversation with Moriarty on his inestimable legacy and the challenges of collecting highland art today.

Author: Natalie Wilson
Publisher: Art Gallery of NSW
RRP: $49.95

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