Vārchive is a term coined by Kihara that uses the Sāmoan concept of Vā to describe her relationship with her archival research.

Renowned Sāmoan writer Albert Wendt describes the Vā as ‘the space between, the betweenness, not empty space, not space that separates but space that relates, that holds separate entities and things together’.

As part of Kihara’s creative process and behind-the-scenes research, she delves into archives, places and issues, which often results in the creation of new works and projects.

The artist’s Vārchive includes personal research, rare books by 19th century explorers, colonial portraits, pamphlets, news items, a geological sculpture, activist material and visual links between Gauguin and Sāmoa. It provides a backstory or a living story of how Paradise Camp came into being.

Thirteen Images by Charles Kerry

A selection, chosen by Yuki Kihara, of 13 glass plate negatives of black and white photographs produced by Charles Kerry and Company, Sydney, between 1884-1917, from the Tyrell Collection held in the Powerhouse collection. In the period, prints from these negatives appeared in many Australian publications and albums of views. In 1903, the company began using these negatives to produce postcards of South Pacific rural life and sentimental views.

Kihara retrieves these colonial images of Sāmoan rural life and contrived studio portraits by printing them onto glass against a wallpaper image of a misty harbour and bay. By reclaiming these tropes in her own ensemble exhibition, Kihara returns the colonial gaze in a gesture of reclamation.

If you are connected to the people and lands depicted, please reach out to the Powerhouse First Nations Collections team at firstnationscollections@maas.museum who will work with you to ensure you and your communities' voices are centred in the museum's records.


Siapo is the fine cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree with distinctive patterns used for everyday wear and ceremonial occasions, especially weddings, funeral services and gifts. The cloth is decorated with geometrical motifs using natural dyes derived from native trees, roots, nuts and sap.

Kihara has selected three siapo from the Powerhouse collection, produced in Sāmoa between 1920-40 set against a photographic reproduction of a design made by the late siapo artist Sylvia Hanipale rendered into a wallpaper with the blessing of her family. Kihara references one of the rooms covered in siapo located inside the Robert Louise Stevenson Museum in Vailima, Upolu Island, where the Scottish fiction writer spent much of his time daydreaming about dangerous adventures and concocting 'Treasure Island' about a young boy named Jim Hawkins who goes on a dangerous adventure to recover buried treasure. For Kihara, however, the treasure is the aesthetic experience the Fa'afafine community can take away from Paradise Camp.

Paradise Camp Soundtrack
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