Words and photos: Angus Delaney
Mana Coffee is one of many businesses around Suva that’s getting an artistic makeover from superb Fiji artist Jack Eastgate. The mural, focused around a tanoa, is one Jack hopes customers enjoy as much as he does.
“I was really excited that they allowed me to put this up and it’s always a fun project,” says Jack Eastgate.
Returning to Fiji after 20 years studying and working in the United States, Jack wants Suva to become an “art hub of the South Pacific.”
“I see the opportunity for so many murals here. [I want to] splash as many walls here as I can with murals; really express Fiji through my art, and I can’t wait to collaborate with local artists,” he says.
Mana Coffee is now home to the third mural Jack has completed in Fiji, with the first in Savu village (which he painted with his wife, Alise Eastgate), and another at Sampson Lee’s boutique on Butt Street. Having a colourful tanoa in the centre is fitting for the venue, which is a popular place for people to share grog.
“The tanoa is the central piece and kava has been a part of my life,” says Eastgate.
“[I would describe] all my work as deep jungle. There’s a dense vegetation and plants and flowers and colours,” says Eastgate.
“Then I come in with the darker outlines, which is sort a throwback to South Pacific tattoo heritage.”
The essence of Fiji is clearly represented in the mural, and Eastgate says even while painting in the U.S. he’d include homage to his home country.
“You’ll always see my Fijian origins, the kava plants, the banana leaves, the plaited circle.”
With a degree and a career in graphic design, Jack would also often do live paintings for events in the U.S. but while living abroad, he noticed a change in the Fijian art scene.
“I was observing this creative renaissance that was happening in Fiji, all these artists with so much talent here.
“I really want to be a part of that creative movement.”
He’s only three murals in, but with Jack’s vision and talent, Suva City could soon be home to dozens of his colourful artworks.