Florence Jauke Kamel

This is a throwback shoot, from 2016.
TS Creative Director Sandhya Dusk Devi Nand was in POM, in her capacity as Facilitator & Show Photographer for Stella Runway.
Stella Runway was an initiative of the prestigious and loved Stella Magazine, created by PNG-Aus Woman Amanda Donigi.
This shoot was originally done for Stella Magazine but has remained unpublished until now.

FEATURE - The Ancient Art of Bilum and the Craft of Making it Contemporary.

Florence Jaukae Kamel describes herself as a  Bilum Fiber Artist, which she is and she is more. 
Florence is called “Bilum Meri”, which means Woman Weaver. Bilum Meri when applied to Florence, means “super woman”.
Florence Jaukae Kamel is a local and regional legend, not just for her contemporary twist on tradition (making dresses out of Bilum! Making Bilum fashion statements! Gasp!).
Kamel is a warrior for Women rights, a survivor of domestic violence and a trailblazer.
Florence Jaukae Kamel at Raffles College of Design & Commerce, Sydney, Australia. October 2016. Photo taken by Dusk Devi.
FJK was there at the invitation of the College, to talk about her art with fashion students, teachers, admin and industry personnel.
L-R: Caroline Camargo (the then Raffles Marketing Manager); Jannike Seiuli (Founder Pacific Runway); Florence Jaukae Kamel; Nicholas Comino (the then Raffles Program Director Fashion Design & Fashion Marketing); Betsabeh Sohrabi (the then Raffles Program Director Fashion Marketing) and Sandhya Dusk Devi Nand (the then Publicist of Pacific Runway, now Creative Director/Editor of this magazine)

Trailblazer is not a term to be used lightly, the people who get described this way have not let obstacles defeat them, they have burned obstacles down. The good ones do it with their passion and purpose. They know they have a mission and they know people don’t always understand why the obstacles needed to be burned down in the first place…

“Negative comments and negative people inspire me to be outstanding and be the best.”

FJK lives in Goroka, in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea and has presented her heartwork bilum creations all over the world. 
In 2011, Kamel’s bilum work was “recognised as an important statement of gender empowerment” by the Australian Museum, who acquired examples of it for their Pacific Collections.
Some of these pieces were seen in the recent ‘BILAS: Body Adornment’ exhibition.
Her work has also appeared in the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art exhibition Threads Contemporary Textiles and the Social Fabric.
“I was taught how to weave Bilum when I was 6-7 years old, now I own Jaukae Bilum Products, which I started in 2002.
This specializes in marketing Bilum products, providing Bilum training for Bilum Weavers in PNG Communities, and finding retail markets for Bilum Weavers.”
FJK also started the Goroka Bilum Festival in 2009, to celebrate and honour the traditional, ancient skill of Bilum weaving.
The festival also acts as a trade expo for Bilum Weavers from all over Papua New Guinea, who travel to Goroka to sell their Bilums.
Each Bilum tells a different story and is a ‘book’ of stories of the Women who weave them, not just their personal experiences but collective history.
“Another important point of the festival is data collection. I collect and record the stories behind each of the designs, working closely with the JK McCarthy Museum in Goroka. 
There’s also nightly cultural events with dances, fashion shows, performances and local food cooking.”
…sounds like a place where we all want to be! Goroka Bilum Festival 2024.

SPOTLIGHT ON.... Florence Jaukae Kamel

Florence Jaukae Kamel at Raffles College of Design & Commerce, Sydney, Australia. October 2016. Photo taken by Dusk Devi.
Bilum Fibre Artist and Bilumwear creator/weaver/designer


1. What is your current project? 
The 2024 Collection and Training for Bilum Weavers in Madang
2. How do you like to spend your free time?
Driving along the Highway
3. What kind of music are you into? 
Traditional Music
4. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
5. What skill would you like to master? 
Teach Bilum
6. What is your favourite thing to daydream about? 
7. What has been the highlight of this past week? 
Just Delivered the 14th PTI Goroka Bilum Festival
8. What has been the highlight of your year?
Goroka Bilum Festival
9. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? 
Hippopotamus. I am inoffensive when left alone but if provoked I get angry.
10. What is one thing you tried that you’ll never do again?
Being Angry
11. What was your first job?
A book keeper for “Tinpis Run”. a first PNG comedy film produced back in 1990
12. What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? 
Having or seeing Bilum fashion on any runway
13. If your younger self could meet you as an adult, what would they be most impressed by? 
The Traditional Knowledge I have with Bilum and how much it has transformed and improved.
14. What colour would you use to describe yourself? 
Image courtesy of FJK's FB page.
15. What do you think is the most essential life skill? 
Bilum as this is what I am sustaining myself with
16. Would you ever want to be a leader of a country?  
Not in politics but in Bilum and Traditional skills
17. What Qualities would make you a good leader? 
Bring market opportunities, develop new ideas
18. Would you rather drive a car or be driven? 
Drive myself, I don’t like people driving me unless I travel to places and on routes that I don’t know, then I can be driven by someone else
19. What’s one thing you would change about yourself? 
Anger Management
20. What gives you hope? 
Do whatever I can that’s positive
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