Visiting Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles officially welcomed the Australian delegation to the Festival of Pacific Arts who are taking part in the two week festival in Honiara.

The Australia Council for the Arts is supporting 50 of Australia's best Indigenous artists to participate in the festival.

A welcome reception at the Australian High Commissioner's residence on Sunday was attended by the Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo and Mrs Lilo, the Minister for Culture and Tourism, Samuel Manetoali and Chairperson of the Pacific Arts Festival, Doreen Kuper.

Mr Marles said the Australian delegation is the largest ever to attend a Pacific arts festival.

"The Australian artists represent an extensive range of Indigenous art forms and cultural practices, from dance and visual arts in the Torres Strait, desert reggae in Papunya, fabric design in the Tiwi to glassworks and poetry in Canberra," Mr Marles said.

Amongst the artists are the Tjupi Band, who are part of a new wave of Indigenous Australian reggae; the Chooky Dancers, widely known through their previous work, Wrong Skin (Ngurrumilmarrmiryu) and their appearance in the film Bran Nue Dae; Sharon Phineasa, whose passion for preserving culture through artistic expression leads to work across artforms including, painting, printmaking, collage, sculpture and carving; and singer/songwriter Jess Beck creates a unique blend of pop, folk and jazz with her band.

Mr Marles also acknowledged the start of NAIDOC week.

"NAIDOC week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples."

"NAIDOC week is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life and it is very fitting that we can launch NAIDOC week here in Honiara with some of Australia's best indigenous artists. The festival is the perfect way to showcase our rich indigenous talent to both Solomon Islanders and our Pacific friends."

Source:Press Release, Australian High Commission, Solomon Islands