No place like home

Jack Eastgate with the mural he painted outside Samson Lee’s Wearing Fiji Boutique on Butt St, Suva. Picture: ELENA VUCUKULA

You can take a man out of Fiji but you can’t remove Fiji out of him. This popular local adage rings true for Fijian multidisciplinary creative professional Jack Eastgate.

After living in Oakland, California in the US for 20 years, Jack moved his family back to Fiji in December 2022. He returns with six years of in-house graphic design experience and over a decade of freelancing design work.

Eastgate felt a strong attraction to visual arts as a young boy growing up in Suva. That childhood passion stuck and it came as no surprise that he studied graphic design after graduating from high school.

“I always loved painting and drawing as a kid growing up in Nasese,” he said. “After graduating from high school, I moved to Oakland, California in the United States and did my studies in graphic design.”

During his art journey, he got interested in doing murals following his aquaintances with live painting exhibitions back in the US.

“I just moved back home recently with my wife and son.” The Eastgates live in Naitasiri.

Eager to get back to work and passion, he reached out to his contacts to see if they needed murals.

“I had made connections with fashion designer Samson Lee,” he said.

“I did a couple of events for him wh­en he for a show in Sacramento, California.” Eastgate said Fiji was very special to him.

“America is a great place with lots of opportunities and great people but there is something special about Fiji.

“Fiji is home and I was very homesick. I just wanted to come back, bring my experience and share it with the locals.”

Because of his Fijian roots, his painting often reflects images from his childhood, like the sea and the forest.

“I grew up in Nasese. My father is Tiko Eastgate and my mother is American. “My father was the former owner of Tiko’s Floating Restaurant in Suva.

“Him and my mum now have a farm in Savu, Naitasiri.” Eastgate is the youngest of four siblings. He and his older brother live in Fiji while his older sister and other brother and their families live in the US and New Zealand respectively. Apart from painting murals Eastgate spends time working on the family farm in Naitasiri.

“I have started to line up my work and get my calendar filled and this is the first mural with Samson Lee’s Wearing Fiji Boutique shop on Butt S.

“So far, I have about four murals that have been booked and I’m open to bookings but it just depends on the time and budget. Though business is a bit slow, he is confident he’ll be busy soon.

“All of our paintings right now are on the boat and we are shipping stuff over. When we get all our stuff here we would have an exhibit, this year or maybe next year.

“But people can see some of my work online on or and the different styles that I do.

“I actually love doing this and it’s a passion of mine.” Jack’s partner, Alise Eastgate, is from Lousiana and a mural artist as well. “We have exhibited in solo and group shows in the Bay Area and have live-painted at events and festivals throughout California and the Fiji Islands.

“Through our joint project, East Rand Studios, we have created public art in Naitasiri and in Oakland, California.

“Our work draws from the lush, tropical landscapes of Fiji along with the creative traditions of the African diaspora, the South Pacific Islands, and the contemporary styles of Oakland.

“Using these sources of inspiration, we create paintings that are aligned with a just and kind world we imagine and aspire to create.”

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