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250702 Artificial Island, Solomon Islands 1917


Leaving San Francisco in June 1917, the Johnsons spent the next six months visiting the Solomon Islands and New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) retracing Martin’s previous voyage aboard the Snark with Jack London.

Arriving on the island of Malaita, they spent a month visiting villages and the man-made islands of Langa Langa Lagoon and Lau Lagoon. In early August they traveled north to the islet of Leuenewa in the Ontong Java atoll, where they filmed ceremonies and customs unique to the Solomons, including large wooden and coral cemetery headstones. Afterwards, they moved on to Guadalcanal, San Cristobal (now Makira),and Santa Ana islands.

This photo is of an "Artificial Island" off of an island in the Solomons.  

Martin made it a specific destination stop to share with Osa; he had first seen this scenic man-made wonder when he traveled with Jack London aboard the Snark in 1908 that had been planned to encompass the globe.  Jack discusses the islands in his book Voyage of the Snark:

"We ran down the lagoon from Langa Langa, between mangrove swamps through passages scaresly wider than the Monota, and passed the reef villages of Kaloka and Auki. Like the founders of Venice, these salt water men were originally refugees form the mainland. Too weak to hold their own in the bush, survivors of village massacres, they fled to the sand banks of the lagoon. These sand banks they built up into islands and they were compelled to seek their provender from the sea."

After a trip to Sydney, Australia to develop their film, Martin + Osa sailed to the New Hebrides which lie south of the Solomons. They visited Vao and Espiritu Santo, then Malekula which was inhabited by the Big Nambas and Chief Nihipat. Little affected by missionaries and traders, they were what Martin had hoped to find all along, but due to a miscommunication, the Johnsons stay ended abruptly.

In January of 1918, Martin + Osa had enough high quality footage for a successful feature film, “Among the Cannibal Isles of the South Seas,” but bringing back the first images of actual headhunting in the South Seas had eluded them.

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