Posts tagged ‘Auckland Museum’

I was privileged to be invited to speak briefly at the opening of Taku Tāmaki – Auckland Stories South at MIT Manukau yesterday. This awesome little exhibition is open for the next year and I love it! Check it out next time you’re in South Auckland. My korero went a bit like this:

I want to acknowledge the speakers who have come before me, it’s my privilege to be standing up here as a local, an artist, and a proud resident of Ōtara-Papatoetoe, South Auckland.

A blog post about the voice and involvement of ‘source communities’ in the curation and management of objects and stories from indigenous peoples has stirred up anger and outrage, sadness and frustration in the past week. Tiffany Jenkins’ polarising perspective has inspired broad commentary about authorship, ownership, racism and privilege which is too often found just below the surface in the international Museum space.

I want to acknowledge Simon and Kelly, Kolokesa and Amiria, an inspiring team of conscious and caring professionals who represent a new era of Museum practice. Bringing this show to us here in Manukau shifts the focus, it re-aligns the centre… an act that quietly changes the game of Museum practice in Aotearoa. Thank you.

It was my privilege to be consulted in the development of this important exhibition. I want to thank the team for listening, accommodating for me and my toddler, taking time to hear and appreciate the nuances of living and working, and feeling proud of being a South Aucklander.

I want to acknowledge the whole team who has created this exhibition – I know that time and energy has gone into every aspect of what we see here, your consideration and attention to detail, your skill and expertise, elevates our stories and I’m grateful for your efforts.

I wanted to acknowledge too that… I’m here on purpose. I choose to live here. This is my place to stand, not by accident, but by informed choice. I migrated to Manukau, not to New Zealand, or Auckland, to this place, and I’m still here because this place gives me life, it settles me, reminds me where I came from and where I can go.

I love feeling so close to the Pacific, I loved being a student and later working at an institution which prides itself on raising the bar of Pasifika achievement. Pacific people feel at home in Manukau because we see ourselves, our norms, our culture and languages represented in our environments. And that helps.

It makes all the difference when our stories and experiences are celebrated, not for overcoming adversity, but for making massive strives for our communities on national and international levels.

I appreciate that this exhibition highlights the socio-economic, political and historical forces that shape our lives here in Manukau. These factors affect and inspire so much of the vibrant culture of creative expression, of visual and performing arts, of music and spoken word that are proudly coming out of our art centres, our churches, homes, halls and neighbourhoods.

I learned my craft as a curator here at MIT; I learned to appreciate the value of creativity and the value of my position, my space, my voice and context. MIT opened doors to me I hadn’t even considered, and I’m incredibly proud to take this institution with me wherever I go.

Although I now find myself working outside of the Arts, Manukau reminds me every day that art is a vehicle to talk about people, and culture and belonging, and when those things are in the foreground, when those stories and nuances are heard, reflected and honoured, a community thrives, and that’s where I want to be.

A last acknowledgement; to Vinesh Kumaran, the photographer, creative visionary whose talent I’ve been privileged to feed off for the past decade – thank you. And to my colleagues from Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura – I’m on a new journey of service and celebration with you, for the love of South Auckland, thank you for your support.

Vinaka vakalevu, fa’afetai tele lava, malo ‘aupito.

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Visiting Auckland Museum store room, photograph by Sangeeta Singh11 September, 2015 – Suva, FIJI – Four Fijian New Zealand and Australian based women artists will congregate in Suva, Fiji next week for a creative research project inspired by the practice of Fijian female tattooing. This is the first time a research project is being undertaken to delve into the lost tradition of Fijian female tattooing of veiqia.

The Veiqia Project has gathered seven contemporary Fijian women artists engaged in Australia and New Zealand to participate in shared research activities and Museum visits to inform the development of new artwork for an exhibition due to take place in Auckland, New Zealand in March 2016. At its heart, The Veiqia Project involves nine Fijian women – seven artists and two curators – on a journey of artistic and cultural enquiry.

Four of the seven artists will travel to Suva from the 14th to 28th September to undertake research, meetings and participate in events.

New Zealand-based artists Margaret Aull, Joana Monolagi and Luisa Tora will join Australian-based Dulcie Stewart on the trip. Project and exhibition curators Tarisi Vunidilo and Ema Tavola, both proud i-taukei women from the province of Kadavu are excited about the prospects of their research in Fiji.

Through a shared online research forum and time spent with Fijian collections at museums in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand, the artists have generated an indigenous research archive driven by personal, artistic and relational connections. The project has drawn significant support from Auckland Museum, Fiji Museum, the Fijian Art Project, practitioners, supporters, friends and family engaged both on and offline.

“Fijian women used to have a very proud ancient tradition of veiqia, where girl children were tattooed when they reached puberty. This tradition has been lost over time due to colonization and other factors. Veiqia has intrigued many of us for a long time and we are very excited to come back home to Fiji to research more about this ancient art and to discuss and share with other Fijians their views and stories about this once practiced art”, Ms. Tavola said.

“We are grateful to Creative New Zealand for significant funding towards this research enabling us to bring our Fijian women artists together to collaborate on this project”, she added.

“We are inviting everyone to come to our organised events to share with us in story- telling and talanoa about our traditions and research that we hope one day will be revived. Come and take ownership of discussions surrounding this ancient female artform”, she said.

The artists will hold a Veiqia panel discussion at the FNU campus on Thursday, 17th September and an open day on Saturday, 19th September at the Fiji Museum Veranda and will include visitations to artists at Tagimoucia Gallery, Fiji Corrections Unit, Suva and dialogue with Fijian tattooist Billy Blaze.

Please see below for more details on the exhibition, visit https://pimpiknows.com/theveiqiaproject/ or contact Tarisi Vunidilo 7517241 for more information.

The Veiqia Project: Panel Discussion

Hear from the curators and artists behind a creative project that connects artists, Museum collections and Fijian tattoo.
Speakers: Margaret Aull, Joana Monolagi, Dulcie Stewart, Ema Tavola, Luisa Tora, Tarisi Vunidilo with guest speaker Julia Maga’au Gray

Date: Thursday 17 September, 2015
Time: 6 – 8pm
Venue: FNU Campus Raiwai, Carpenter Street
Enquiries: Theresa Koroi, ph: 9987150, email: Theresa.Koroi@fnu.ac.fj

The Veiqia Project: Investigating our tattooed histories

Come and learn about the research The Veiqia Project has uncovered, watch Melanesian tatu artist Julia Mage’au Gray demonstrate traditional hand-poke tattoo style, get involved with fun art activities, hear from The Veiqia Project artists and the ways Museum collections can inspire new understandings of our Pacific art histories.

Date: Saturday 19 September, 2015
Time: 10am – 3pm
Venue: Fiji Museum Veranda

Image credit: Sangeeta Singh, with permission from Auckland Museum
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I made a series of collages for the #Tattoo4Tonga fundraising effort last month inspired by a visit to Auckland Museum. Associate Curator Pacific, Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai bought one the works in my Paper Breastplates Series and wrote this blog about the inspiration that stemmed from a quick visit to the Auckland Museum store room! Click here to read more…

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I’ve made a series of paper collages to sell at #Tattoo4Tonga this weekend.

I was inspired after a visit to the Auckland Museum storeroom where I spied some exquisite Fijian breastplates kept in dark little drawers. Being so close to them without a glass cabinet between us, I felt attached and energised by them; I’ve been intrigued with Fijian breastplate design for a long time. Although I was able to photograph them, I was asked not to share the imagery. I loved encountering these beautiful objects and wanted to tell the world! As a social media creature, I found this proposition quite challenging… so, this series came about.

A paper entitled, Uncharted Histories of Ivory Carving Canoe Builders and Canoe Building Ivory Carvers in Western Polynesia, delivered by Steven Hooper at the Pacific Arts Association International Symposium in Vancouver last year gave me a deeper appreciation for the construction of Fijian breastplates. The Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji exhibition catalogue published by the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge (UK) has also inspired me. I long-term borrowed it from my parents on a recent trip to Suva, where I also made a quick visit to the Fiji Museum. I love observing the ways in which Fijian objects are kept, discussed, displayed and valued in these very different contexts.

Civavonovono - Breastplate, Fiji Museum

These paper breastplates were created thinking about where these beautiful objects live, in the Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand, thousands of miles from where they came from. I was thinking about value and values, Fijian value and non-Fijian value. And imagining what repatriation would feel like, and in an ideal world, what the Fiji Museum could house and display if they had the resources and leadership of larger international museums.

The works I made use pages of magazines and journals about Auckland, Renaissance art, American muscle cars, contemporary art, oceans, Fijian arts and culture and the Bible.

This series, made specifically for the #Tattoo4Tonga event, measure approximately 250x250mm. They’ll be framed and sold for NZD100 each. All proceeds go towards Cyclone Ian relief in Ha’apai, Tonga.

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