Born c. 1901 Gagan, Buka District, Autonomous Region of Bougainville
Died 1965 Gagan, Autonomous Region of Bougainville
Lived and worked in
Gagan, Autonomous Region of Bougainville
Somuk was one of Bougainville’s pioneering artists. He started working in the 1920s with support from a Marist priest, Father Patrick O’Reilly, who visited Bougainville in 1934–35. O’Reilly’s journal, Séjours à Bougainville, Îles Salomon 1934–45, in the collection of the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, is illustrated with 28 original drawings by Somuk and an additional two illustrated tales. Many of Somuk’s drawings, now held in collections throughout Europe, document stories, customs and life in Bougainville between the wars, and also engage with Christian themes. In 2012, the Red Cross revisited Somuk’s drawings, using them as a teaching aid in artistic workshops in Bougainville as part of the creative treatment for ongoing trauma from the regional crisis of the late 1980s and 1990s.