Leonard Tebegetu

The title of the Residency here at the De Young draws on the idea that what I create comes from the recesses of my mind, moulded by my experiences and driven towards the aim of using my practice as a means of educating my people and helping them fully utilize materials that are indigenous to our land and to the earth to make a better way of living for themselves.

The works being produced here are driven by my desire to create installations with bamboo that introduces new ideas and simple technology to my people and provides visitors to the Museum a cross-cultural experience to some extent.

Hala - (translated to mean House/Dwelling)

The main installation in the Kimball, Hala is inspired by  my time in Taos, New Mexico. Time which was spent learning to build off the grid buildings know as Earthships. Constructed using both natural and recyclable materials such as tyres, bottles and aluminum cans, the experience has provided me with a different skill set that now enables me to think of these mediums as means of not only building homes for people but also as means of creating art that reinforces the need to re-use, recycle and think sustainably. 

As such, Hala, is a reference to the journey ahead. It highlights what to me are important aspects in a structure built for dwelling in Papua New Guinea and explores working solely with traditional and new ways of joining and connecting bamboo without the use of nuts and bolts and nails and screws , etc.

Circle of Life

This work consists of three panels and is a 'work in progress'. I have always loved working with the female form; using the particular subject matter as a means of exploring and commenting on issues relating to woman in Papua New Guinea and this I have always done with paint on canvas. This is an attempt to carry this subject matter into these installations. 

The panels will aim to portray three different stages in a woman's life in traditional New Ireland (my home province). The panels are inspired by pictures of panels that were taken from a women's house in the early 1800s. This work concentrates on motifs that depict and differentiate between the different stages in the growth and development of a woman, from the time of the first menstrual cycle to child bearing and old age. The work however differs from my paintings of female figures in that, rather than concentrating on the figure, it focusses on the naval, the uterus and the womb as points of reference, in determining for example whether or not the woman has been engaged in sexual intercourse or whether consequently she has been impregnated. These three panels thus, will aim to depict selected stages which were of importance in traditional New Ireland. They will aim to create a sculptural work, created with bamboo that is three dimensional and provides different viewing points that demonstrate different aspects in the different stages in the womans life as she grows physically and advances within her society, as a daughter, a young lass, a wife, a mother and a matriarch in a matrilineal society.


Learn more about the artist and his work.