Posts tagged ‘Margaret Aull’

I’m working with an awe-inspiring group of women on a curatorial project for the 4th International Biennale of Casablanca. A successful grant application from Creative New Zealand was announced earlier this month, and we came together this past weekend to talanoa in real time.

The working title of the project is A Maternal Lens, it will include new work by Margaret Aull, Leilani Kake, Julia Mage’au Gray, Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai and Vaimaila Urale. The exhibition project will open in Casablanca, Morocco in late October.

I’ll write more in the coming months about this project – it’s hearty. I just wanted to share that this weekend’s wānanga in Whaingaroa was filled with the sounds of the ocean and bush, the energy of an exquisite sunset and life-giving sunrise; it was restorative and invigorating. We missed Julia, who was in Australia making marks, but I’m feeling so positive about this project and its unique approach that privileges the roles of mothers / parents (M is for Mothers in the PIMPImanifesto).

I can’t wait to see it come together.

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I organised a small-scale exhibition of three Fiji artists for Fiji Day here at the University of Canterbury. It was a make-shift effort in the Pasifika Lali Room where we held three Fijian Language Week inspired talks. The works framed the events including a Fiji Day celebration hosted by the Fijian Students Association where a meke was performed by Christchurch Fiji community kids. I’m grateful that the works of Joseph Hing and Margaret Aull gave these events and their audiences an opportunity to consider different ways of seeing Fiji and Fijian identity. This is the text I wrote to accompany the works:

To mark the anniversary of Fijian Independence from British colonial rule in 1970, Fijians celebrate ‘Fiji Day’ on the 10th of October. In Aotearoa, the Ministry of Pacific Peoples instigated the Pacific Languages Framework in 2007 to encourage the skill and fluency of Pacific language use amongst New Zealand’s Pacific communities. The week surrounding Fiji Day is acknowledged in New Zealand as Fijian Language Week.

Stimulating Pacific language development and retention has become a government initiative presumably because language is a key factor in cultural knowledge and identity. Communities who see themselves as strong and resilient, culturally rich and meaningful, have potential and agency. The opportunity for wider New Zealand society to engage and interact with Pacific cultures is an important process of interculturalism and so whilst Pacific language events can be and often are tokenistic gestures of social inclusion, there remains to be some value in the conscious awareness of different ways New Zealanders see and experience the world through language and expressions of identity.

In this small collection of photographic and mixed media works, three artists offer insights into their worldviews as Fijians.

Photography by Joseph Hing

Both within and beyond his professional capacity working as Senior Communications Assistant for Unicef Pacific, Joseph Hing has developed an astute knack of talking story through his social media presence (Twitter: @Viti_Kid, Instagram: @joseph_h84). In an era of citizen journalism, Hing’s photographic snapshots and cleverly crafted captions about events, places and observations of culture and flux have deepened and engaged international interest in the lesser seen sides of life in Fiji and Oceania.

Hing’s Suva is big skies and busy streets, textures of forgotten urban surfaces in stark contrast with the flowing curves of their natural landscape. In moments of balance between climate, commerce and culture, Hing draws references and traces of our past into the present, highlighting the precarious thrusts of Suva city, Fiji and Oceania into the future.

In our rapidly changing world, Hing’s work makes an important contribution to the digital visual archiving of Suva from the perspective of local eyes on local vistas. Void of any specific editorial narrative, Hing’s work is about appreciation; there is a romanticism to these records of everyday life. Hing speaks to the casual beauty and natural swagger of Suva city, the ‘New York of the Pacific’, a welcome and refreshing subversion of the stereotypical visual rhetoric of tourism, rugby and natural disasters

Full Tide (2017) by Margaret Aull

Margaret Aull is a Waikato-based painter, curator and arts manager whose Māori (Te Rarawa, Tūwharetoa) and Fijian ancestries frame her interests in the notion of tapu / tabu, a cultural construct embedded in most indigenous frameworks. Catholicism and totems, tohu / signs, warnings and ritual are mashed up in photo[copy]-graphic detail and hand-made brush strokes. Aull mixes acrylic paints with Fijian ochre and gold leaf, paper and found textures to create deluxe dreamscapes, which are as rich in the flesh as they translate through screens disguised as careful digital collages.

In two small works made specifically to honour Fiji Day at the University of Canterbury, Aull makes reference to the Fijian ritual of mourning for one hundred nights, and the colloquial language and centrality of yaqona (kava) drinking in building relationships and strengthening familial bonds.

Ema Tavola is the 2017 Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies Artist in Residence. She is a South Auckland-based practicing curator of Fijian and Pākehā heritage, and currently researching and writing a manifesto exploring modes of decolonising Pacific art curating.

Tavola’s curatorial approach comes by way of a visual arts practice. She has worked in painting, photo media and collage in recent years and has been fixated on the Fijian forms of civavonovono (breast plates) and war weaponry, and the politics of their visibility in international Museum collections. Through both curating and making, Tavola interrogates shifting value systems, power and ownership, and symbols of mana and presence for Pacific people as both artists and audiences.

This small exhibition was produced with support from the artists, Margaret Aull and Joseph Hing; Peter Sipeli (ArtTalk); Fiji Students Association, University of Canterbury; Steven Ratuva and Lydia Baxendell.

 

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The Perpetual Flux of Transitional Otherness presents 15 new works by Margaret Aull, Leilani Kake and Ema Tavola. The exhibition runs from 6 March – 1 April 2017 at Olly, 537 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland.

1. Poedua, Papua Merdeka
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
SOLD
2. Swallow Orange (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
SOLD
SOLD
3. Black Sam
Mixed media on board
400x400mm
Margaret Aull
SOLD
4. Swallow Pink (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
A/P SOLD
2/2 available
5. Ika
Mixed media on board
300x300mm
Margaret Aull
$390
6. Poedua Addiction
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
SOLD
7. Poedua for Gus (pronounced Goos)
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
SOLD
8. Black Sam and his mates
Collage, acrylic ink on board
400x400mm
Margaret Aull
$390
9. Swallow Blue (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
A/P SOLD
2/2 available
10. Poedua, Galbraith Building
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
SOLD
11. Kev
Mixed media on board
Margaret Aull
SOLD
12. Swallow Green (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
A/P SOLD
2/2 available
13. Poedua O.G
Ink, watercolour on acid free paper
297x420mm
Ema Tavola
$390
14. Swallow Yellow (A/P, edition of 2)
Digital print
420x594mm
Leilani Kake
$300
15. KARE
Collage, acrylic ink on canvas
700x700mm
Margaret Aull

IMG_3676
$1,100

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Back in Suva stomping old ground, learning a lot and feeling so excited for The Veiqia Project! So gloriously un-academic, and safe from territorialism, this trip has been deeply inspiring…

The Veiqia Project is a creative research project investigating the practice of Fijian female tattooing; it will culminate in an exhibition due to open at Auckland’s St Paul St Gallery 3 in March 2016, timed to coincide with the Pacific Arts Association XII International Symposium and Auckland Arts Festival. The exhibition will feature new work by seven contemporary artists from Australia and New Zealand. 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.

A significant Creative New Zealand grant enabled New Zealand-based artists Margaret Aull, Joana Monolagi, Luisa Tora and myself to travel to Suva to meet Australia-based artist Dulcie Stewart and co-curator, Tarisi Vunidilo, to conduct research at Fiji Museum, host two public events, meet and hear stories from a broad range of artists, experts and academics. A special invitation was extended to Darwin-based tatu artist / film maker / choreographer, Julia Mage’au Gray, who contributed knowledge and insights on tattoo design, protocols, inspiration and the wider globalised challenges of appropriation and intellectual property protection.

This week, we all start to trace the well-worn paths back to our diasporic other-lands. The Veiqia Project has been grounded and expanded, it has become a catalyst and a trigger, a call to action and a gentle reminder that this particular approach to creative research is tangible and social, genuine and emotional, intersectional and multidimensional… and not at all academic.

Thank you to our project partners: Creative New Zealand, Fiji Museum, Fiji National University School of Creative Art, Sangeeta Singh Photography. Thank you to our friends and families who have fed and watered us, driven us around and lent us cars, cameras, drawing skills. Thank you to the staff at the Fiji Museum, especially Mere, Mereia, Prakashni, Ratu Sela, William, Raijeli and Elenoa. Vinaka Jane Ricketts and the resident artists at Tagimoucia Gallery. Thank you Twitter fams, @gurumi, @sharky_fj and @fijiandiva104! We are all truly grateful!

v i n a k a   v a k a l e v u

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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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The first three exhibitions I’ve visited this year have got me thinking…

Waikato-based visual artist Margaret Aull (Te Rarawa, Tūwharetoa, Fiji) presented her Master of Fine Arts graduating work this week at Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design in central Auckland (read more here). Cook Islands choreographer Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French has curated an impressive exhibition at Fresh Gallery Otara, and down the road at Mangere Arts Centre, there’s a long summer exhibition called Agiagiā, which is a Samoan title for an exhibition on the late Pākehā artist, Len Lye.

In the way that so many conversations in the diaspora about Pacific art and artists reflect and respond to colonisation, these exhibitions highlight three notions of cultural exchange. The artists critique and respond to the interface of coloniser and colonised, where cultures blend and bleed into each other. Consciously and unconsciously, the exhibitions present commentary on reciprocity, loss, protocol and power.

The entrance to Margaret Aull’s installation, entitled Rules of Engagement, was symbolically lowered. It required audiences to stoop upon entering the space, responding to the Fijian protocol of lowering one’s head as a gesture of respect and deference when in the presence of a chief (traditionally), entering a room or when passing in front of seated people. The installation is the outcome of Aull’s investigations into the notion of tapu, something she describes as “an indigenous liminal space… [existing] by way of knowing and doing, and activated when acknowledging the unknown.” (Rules of Engagement Through The Notion of Tapu catalogue, © Margaret Aull)

The audience experience of this work is an awkward maneuvering around large-scale objects, precarious mirrors and two slightly manic eyeballs. The installation is loaded with Maori mythological symbolism and rooted in Aull’s personal enquiry informed by her dual heritage.

Choreographer and Cook Islands tamure dancer, Tepaeru-Ariki Lulu French has curated an exhibition entitled, The Pacific Muse: The Art, The Dance. It consists of documentation of her ongoing performance piece, The Pacific Muse, from its original presentation during the 2011 Pacific Dance New Zealand Choreographic Lab to Auckland’s 2013 Tempo Dance Festival. From its most recent presentation, a series of stunning staged photographs were produced and are presented as relatively large-scale prints.

Central to the exhibition is the display of the costumes designed and constructed by Valentina Serebrennikova in consultation with French. They are hauntingly beautiful and feel worn, as in imbued with the dance and French’s ongoing research into  Pacific female body politics, stereotypes and the legacy and effects of colonisation.

Mangere Arts Centre’s summer exhibition, Len Lye: Agiagiā runs for three long months, an exhibition timeframe better suited to large public institutions and museums rather than community galleries. Len Lye was a New Zealand artist known for his innovative experimental film practice; co-curator, James Pinker states in the exhibition’s media release that “Lye was one of the first Pākehā artists to appreciate indigenous cultures around the world.” *side-eye*

The galleries are painted black. The exhibition consists of framed drawings, kinetic sculptures and videos. Whilst there is a lengthy introductory wall text, the exhibition lacks any interpretive text and moving throughout the space, my guest and I felt detached and emotionless at the lack of information and assumed importance of the works. Whilst a museum has a duty to inform and educate its customers, galleries seem to have less accountability for an exhibition’s transmission, a problematic dynamic in the case of a ratepayer-funded community gallery.

Len Lye’s notoriety as an artist is not common knowledge even amongst arts educated audiences; the value of his work is not mutually translatable. He used Pacific imagery in some of his work, and the exhibition has a Samoan title, but the relevance to the Pacific, and potentially Pacific Island audiences, is superficial. Mangere Arts Centre’s audiences are diverse but I find it frustrating that a publicly funded community gallery clearly prioritises for industry and academic audiences before considering the experience and expectations of its local community.

Whilst attendance numbers and mainstream media reviews will translate to bureaucratic boxes ticked, measuring engagement rarely reflects the reality of disengagement. Mangere Arts Centre doesn’t have a suggestions box and there are rarely opportunities to provide feedback on their programming. I’m not alone in wishing that such a well-equipped facility and resource could better serve the community and context it sits within; disappointment and frustration is evident at a community level, but rather than complain, people just don’t go back.

So, 2014 – here we go, here’s to another year of art projects and real talk!

 

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Install detail, "Rules of Engagement" (2014) by Margaret Aull

Waikato-based visual artist Margaret Aull (Te Rarawa, Tūwharetoa, Fiji) presented her Master of Fine Arts graduating work at Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design in central Auckland this week. I wrote a short comment for her exhibition catalogue…

Margaret Aull’s work over the past two years has traced the formation of a pan-cultural understanding of the notion of tapu, drawing from both Fijian and Māori frameworks. From the pictorial to the physical, her paintings have become sculpturally realised in installations that need to be physically negotiated. Throughout this process, the notion of tapu has been researched, discussed and experienced; the idea of sacredness considered in relation to objects and history, gender and power, time and space.

The interface of non-Fijian and non-Māori critical audiences has influenced and evolved her visual vocabulary; her work carries the sense of a deeply significant personal enquiry that is both protected and powerful. There are things that cannot be deconstructed for the purpose of intercultural understanding; there are senses of balance and belonging which cannot be translated into English. It is because of this cultural interface that I see Aull’s installation works as constructed environments for audiences to experience the role of observer.

Engaging with her work is to enact the manner in which protocol and presence is adjusted naturally to accommodate for unseen forces of socio-cultural mores. Such forces are embedded in epistemologies and ontologies, in land, sea and soil, in hearts, minds and memories.

Using imagery of her own body, Margaret confronts audiences with a further dimension of two-way self-reflection. Larger than life, her detached skin, eyes and teeth are loaded in political and emotional codes of race and beauty, sexuality and power.

At the culmination of her postgraduate enquiry, this work maps Aull’s personal and intercultural journey of understanding the notion of sacredness, of safety and of self.

I’ve loved watching the developments of Margaret’s work and I’m excited to see what’s to come!

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Margaret Aull

Margaret Aull

Title: Mata nui
Date: 2012
Series: Concealed Ancestors
Medium: Acrylic, Gold Leaf, Ochre and Paper on Board
Dimensions: 800x800mm [circular]

Artist Statement

My work is an investigation of the notion of Tapu / Tabu, a cultural construct embedded in most indigenous frameworks. For both Māori and Fijians, objects and personal items were often created as visual representations of ancestors and gods often imbued with mana and fear, a spiritual governing law / lore that could transform the mundane into veneration. Imagery and meaning could be transferred or transported through its reproduced format.

I am interested in the type of reverence applied to such objects, and the relationships that existed with their owners and communities during their “life” time. In Museum collections, the value and context of the objects have shifted and changed over time. Its ‘life force’ subdued and dormant as if defunct from the life and intent it emerged from.

The images I have referenced and adopted, as visual representations, aim to reclaim and re-activate meaning as personal cultural signifiers. Traditional ochre/oil for masi (Fijian bark cloth) is a way of locating my identity, bringing forth whenua / vanua (land) within my work. The traditional nature of the pigment challenges the way I work; its natural form resisting synthetic composites destabilizing surfaces… a response perhaps to my blurred genetic code as Māori, Fijian and other.

Concealed Ancestors becomes a way to test boundaries and explore tensions between what is culturally prohibited and what is respectable. These ancestors are concealed within museums, within display cabinets, representatives of a people or a provenance. I am interested in the value of such objects, the cultural negotiations / obligations of collectors and the space between the physical and spiritual.

Bio

Margaret Aull (Te Rarawa, Tūwharetoa, Fiji) completed undergraduate studies at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and Waikato Institute of Technology where she completed a Bachelor of Media Arts winning the Waikato Museum ArtsPost Award for excellence in Academic Record in 2006.

Aull has exhibited extensively in New Zealand since 2005 with a solo exhibition entitled Na Kena Yali (Loss) at the Chartwell Gallery, Hamilton in 2008 and Concealed Ancestors at Papakura Art Gallery, Auckland in 2013. She is currently studying to complete a Master of Fine Arts degree at Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design and is employed as the Art Collection Curator for Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Te Awamutu.

Aull’s work reflects the tensions of culture and identity between her Fijian and Māori ancestry. Her work is the ongoing effort to  find equilibrium between the two cultural powerhouses by investigating the relationships of whakapapa, faith and politics. She is a noted painter but currently expanding her practice into sculpture and installation. Aull has works in private and public collections including Auckland Council, The Barry Hopkins Art Collection, Fiji Museum, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and Open Wānanga Collections, Waikato Institute of Technology and Waikato Museum of Art and History.

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Fijian-Mãori artist Margaret Aull’s solo exhibition, Concealed Ancestors ends this Saturday 23 February at Papakura Art Gallery, South Auckland. A massively well-received exhibition, only three of the nine works on paper are unsold.

During the exhibition, Margaret presented an excellent artist talk on Saturday 9 February, and also managed to present some impressive new work in her end of year assessment exhibition at Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design where she is currently studying to complete a Master of Fine Arts.


Well done, Margaret!

It was a pleasure to work on this project alongside co-curator Nigel Borell. Margaret is a super organised and professional artist; helping her deliver this beautiful solo show was a joy!

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This video briefly documents the journey of Fijian-Maori visual artist Margaret Aull from her Te Awamutu studio in the Waikato to her solo exhibition at Papakura Art Gallery in South Auckland. I co-curated Margaret’s solo exhibition, Concealed Ancestors with Nigel Borell; the exhibition features sculpture and works on paper and runs until 23 February 2013. Read more here.

This video was shot and edited by Leilani Kake and produced as an archival record with support from the Pacific Arts Committee, Creative New Zealand and Toi o Manukau.

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