No one escapes the impact of tribal fighting in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Layered mountain peaks hide remote valleys inaccessible by road. Here you will find communities that look for peace but live with the scars of conflict.
People are as resilient as they are friendly. They smile and wave but carry bush knives or guns to protect themselves. Flatbeds of charcoal and ash among red soil and lush greenery reveal where homes once stood, before falling victim to violence. Alongside roads, women will hold their unopened umbrellas high – a symbol of mourning. Graves in prominent places are reminders that someone was killed on this land and compensation must be paid, or revenge served.
In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, where conflict has traditionally been used to resolve disputes, change occurs slowly. To stop the fighting, communities are working together and with organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross. Peace must grow from the ground up, as communities draw strength from a shared humanity.
A 28-year-old man who was a tribal fighter for 12 years goes back to school to encourage others to turn towards books rather than violence. A principal whose school was burned down set up classrooms for more than 100 students beneath a tree before the community helped raise money to rebuild it. There are nurses who run through the fights, giving medical assistance to both sides. Elders teach that when a single person is hurt, the whole community feels the pain.
In the Fight: Humanity and Tribal Conflict is a collaboration between these communities and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It aims to better understand how highland communities help each other and to highlight how the humanitarian fallout of conflict leaves no one unscathed.
Saturdays, 11am to 5pm
Thursday 9 May to Monday 20 May 2019
Exhibition opening: Thursday 9 May, 6pm-8pm
Artist floor talk: Saturday 11 May, 12pm-1pm