Dellington Henry Bare is a craftsman from Marovo Lagoon in the Solomon Islands. He was taught to carve by his uncles and now carries on the tradition of carving that was carried out by generations of his ancestors in Marovo Lagoon in both wood and stone.
Dellington was raised by his grandparents and grew up with a strong connection to his kastom and culture, as well as respect for its craftsmanship. This knowledge and cultural pride are exhibited in his works, which draw on traditional designs and ancestral kastoms. These elements exist alongside modern interpretations of kastom stories as well as his love of the ocean, which is an integration part of him as an islander and as a diver.
Dellington’s carvings have been created using only hand tools. First he sources timber from his family’s land, and then cuts it up with an axe. He shapes the carvings using a chavi (similar to an adze), and then uses hand tools to refine the design. The shell inlay is made from nautilus shell and is shaped using a file, knife and sharpening stone. Around the inlay a kastom putty called tita is used, which is made from a tree nut.
Traditionally carvings were used to provide offerings to ancestral spirits and to decorate war canoes used for head hunting. Now the carvings provide a link to the stories, culture and natural beauty that embody Solomon Islands.
In the past wooden and stone bowls, as well as clam shells, were used by Dellington’s ancestors to hold foods for the gods that were placed in the tabu sites. They were also used at feasts and sometimes around the home (which is a leaf hut called vanua). They were originally simpler designs, reflecting the tools that were available to people at the time. Often they drew on shapes and images that were a key part of everyday life for the islanders, such as turtles and crocodiles.