These portraits have been taken during the black birding days and were being brought back to the country just for the festival.
From the collections of Charles Woodford, John Beattie and John Metacalfe, the photographs taken during the 1800’s explains culture and historical influence.
Woodford (1852–1927) was a British naturalist and government minister active in the Solomon Islands then.
He became the first Resident Commissioner of the Solomon Islands Protectorate, serving from 1896 (three years after the establishment of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate) until 1915.
Beattie is a traveler who also toured with the Melanesian Mission ship Southern Cross from Norfolk Island to Vanuatu and Solomon Islands in 1906 and Metacalfe another historical icon.
The exhibit is titled ‘Portraits from Our Past’.
One of the most remarkable photographs which captured a lot of visitors attention is the portrait of the woman; the sister of the man who murdered Bishop John Patteson; a historical story that is well-known to a lot of Solomon Islanders.
Bishop Patteson is said to be the founder of the Melanesian Mission in 1855.
He founded a college on Norfolk Island for native boys, toured the islands on the ship Southern Cross, and learned many of the local languages.
In 1861 he was made Bishop of Melanesia.
Bishop Patteson's aim was to take boys from local communities, educate them in western Christian culture and return them to their communities.
Persuading local people to allow their young men to depart – sometimes for years – was his principal problem.
The explanation of his death at that time was that natives killed him as revenge for the abduction of some natives by illegal labour recruiters’ months earlier.
These recruiters, known as "blackbirders", were considered to be virtually slave traders by members of the mission, as they enticed or abducted youths to work on plantations.
This is one of the many photographs from the past that is currently exhibited at the Mokolo building.
Apart from Solomon Islands, historical portraits from other pacific island countries are also on display.
By Douglas Marau
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