Posts tagged ‘U Can’t Touch This’

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Hilifaki kahoa (2015) SOLD
Mixed media
Talafungani Finau

King George Tupou was here #1 SOLD, #2, #3 SOLD
All 2015, ink on cartridge paper, signed
$350 [Framed]

Fresh cuts (2015)
Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Matt FineArt paper
$150 [Framed]
Sione Monu

Oki fa’akama Samoa moni lou ulu / Cut your hair like a true Samoan boy (2015)
Photograph 2014, photographer Setoga Setoga II
Edition of 5
Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Matt FineArt paper
$3000 [Framed]

Shaving (2013)
Edition of 5
Inkjet print on Hahnemühle Matt FineArt paper
$1200 [Unframed]
Siliga David Setoga

Green Flava in Ya Ear SOLD
Pink Supa Dupa Fly
Orange Shook Onez
Yellow Rebirth of Slick

All 2015, ink on Fabriano Artistico 100% cotton, acid-free paper
$200 each [Framed]
Daisy Tavilione

U Can’t Touch This
Curated by Ema Tavola for Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio
16 July – 1 August 2015

Artwork enquiries
Ema Tavola (Curator) | Email | Mobile 027 5779369 | Web

Sione Monu is a Canberra-based visual artist whose first exhibition will be U Can’t Touch This, part of the PIMPI Winter Series at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio. We connected on Instagram, then via email and later in person. I asked him a few questions about his work and ideas…

I came across your work via the Pacific Photobooks project – it looked like a really great opportunity to learn and network with some cool Pacific image makers. How did that experience influence your practice?

Pacific Photobooks was very major for me in networking and learning from Pacific image makers definitely. It was a series of workshops every Saturday in Sydney for Pacific Islander youth to learn from established artists of Pacific decent. We were taught how to use manual on our SLR cameras which I was surprised at how much we can manipulate how the picture comes out before even editing it on Photoshop! It was great. Also being surrounded by Poly artists and listening to them talk about their practice was very inspiring and opened my eyes to the possibilities for us young Poly artists.

Your Instagram is this beautiful archive of your work and experiences, and your selfie game is on point! Do you see digital self-portraiture as a screen-based practice? I’m wondering, do you think something is lost when these images get printed and presented as tangible things?

I love how you put it in your recent blog post where you describe my Instagram as a “gentle insight into Tongan experience in Australia’s capital city.” I’ve always been shy and introverted growing up so Instagram has been this incredible thing for me to express myself and connect with people I wouldn’t have otherwise. Definitely, digital self-portraiture as a screen-based practice seems a natural progression to me especially being part of this technological generation, the possibilities are endless. I do feel something is lost when images are printed and put on a wall, behind another wall, behind a glass door. Too many walls for my liking I think haha! Though I’m sure it’s not so black and white but I just love how accessible Instagram is. I’ve connected with so many people from so many different demographics! All this from a little “selfie” app! It’s really amazing.

I’m so glad that your work is having its first showing in Aotearoa at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio for the PIMPI Winter Series! You came to Auckland recently and seemed to get a lot done! What were your impressions of the city?

Yes! I’m super excited also! My first ever exhibition! I was recently in Auckland for a great uncle’s funeral. After the funeral I contacted as many Pacific Islander artists based in Auckland that I follow on Instagram for meet ups. I had a good talk with you and Stan over a coffee and coconut ice cream which was fabulous. I got to meet many other artists based in Auckland who I admire very much. It’s been a roller-coaster ride of experiences even now I’m still trying to process it all! Auckland city was alright I guess but south Auckland really has stolen my heart. My morning runs up the local mountains was definitely one of my favourite things about my stay.  I’m actually looking to move over in the near future, and just find my own little space in this beautiful land. Thank the universe for my parents never changing my citizenship to Australian! So I’m still a kiwi y’all! Haha!

You seem to have a big Insta-fan-base with the Pacific arts community – I think there’s a general feeling that your work is fresh to death! I’m excited to see where your practice will take you, but I’m wondering, what’s your big picture, what would be your ideal art future?

My female cousins taught me early the fine art of Instagram/Facebook stalking. But I would spend my stalking sessions stalking Pacific arts people! Haha! And now I have many Pacific arts community followers thanks to my stalking skills, which is nice. What’s my big picture? Well I have keen interests in so many mediums so I’ll just keep sharing my designs, photographs, videos clips, fashion illustrations, with the world through Instagram until the universe says what’s next I guess. As for my art future, something that incorporates all my interests would be a long shot… but a girl can dream!

“King George Tupou was here #2”, one of three illustrations for sale in “U Can’t Touch This”

U Can’t Touch This
16 July – 1 August
Private View
6-8pm, Thursday 16 July
Talafungani Finau, Sione Monu, Siliga David Setoga, Daisy Tavilione

Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio is located at 159 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland. Open Mondays from 9am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-7pm. Barber and tattoo appointments and enquiries: (09) 630 4380 /

Exhibition & Artwork Enquiries:

Media Release
9 July 2015

The head, the hair and the selfie

South Auckland curator, Ema Tavola, is bringing Pacific art to new audiences in a series of three site-specific pop-up exhibitions at a Mt Eden barber and tattoo shop.

The PIMPI Winter Series is a collaboration with Stan Lolohea, art historian, tattooist and owner of Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio. Three exhibitions will be shown over eight weeks featuring over 25 new works from 12 visual artists, and everything is for sale!

“We’ve joined forces to emphasise the entrepreneurial potential of Pacific art and creativity. There seem to be few opportunities for artists to show and sell experimental work, but it’s this exposure and the sales that can be generated, that can give a creative practice quite a bit of momentum,” Ema says.

The exhibitions have been developed to respond to the site and context of the barber shop, the common perceptions of what (and who) defines ‘Pacific art’, and the everyday negotiation of difference living in New Zealand’s largest and most ethnically diverse city.

The artworks will be installed in and around the busy barber shop floor, and the first exhibition of the series, U Can’t Touch This, is a special acknowledgment of the head, the hair and the selfie.

Alongside Mt Eden local, new media artist Siliga David Setoga, the show features the work of three first-time exhibitors; Talafungani Finau and Daisy Tavilione from South Auckland, and Sione Monu based in Canberra, Australia. In adornment, illustration, photography and print, each artist responds to the idea of the head, regarded in many Pacific cultures as the most sacred part of the body.

Ema believes in the quality of making art accessible and relevant, “this is artwork that doesn’t need an art gallery to define it; the work reflects everyday lives, values and shared experience. It’s current and beautiful, informed by Auckland and our place in the world.”

Meet the artists at the exhibition’s Private View events, book in for a haircut or tattoo, or just drop in for a visit. With only a four day turnaround, two more exhibitions will follow U Can’t Touch This and works lists, artist interviews, photos and commentary will be available at

Exhibition details

U Can’t Touch This
Featuring: Talafungani Finau, Sione Monu, Siliga David Setoga, Daisy Tavilione
Private View: 6-8pm, Thursday 16 July
Exhibition dates: 16 July – 1 August

The next exhibitions in the PIMPI Winter Series are:

That’s not Pacific Art
Featuring: Faafeu Kapeneta, Ana Lakusa, Qingze Nan, Genevieve Pini
Private View: 6-8pm, Thursday 6 August
Exhibition dates: 6-22 August

Know what I mean, jellybean?
Featuring: Leilani Kake, Niutuiatua Lemalu, Waiora Palalagi, Pati Solomona Tyrell
Private View: 6-8pm, Thursday 27 August
Exhibition dates: 27 August – 12 September


Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio is located at 159 Mt Eden Road, Auckland.
Opening Hours: Monday, 9am – 6pm; Tuesday – Saturday 9am – 7pm

About Stan Lolohea

Stan Lolohea has been a practicing tattoo artist for more than 10 years working predominantly between Auckland and Melbourne. He opened Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio in 2014, a dedication to his late friend, Willie Halaifonua, an Auckland-based barber who suffered a fatal brain injury whilst playing rugby in 2013. Stan holds a Master of Arts degree in Art History from the University of Auckland.

About Ema Tavola

From 2006-2012, Ema Tavola held the role of Pacific Arts Coordinator for Manukau City Council (later Auckland Council), where she established and managed Fresh Gallery Otara producing over 60 exhibitions, three annual Pacific Arts Summits and co-editing two editions of SOUTH publication. In 2012, Ema was the first curator awarded the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifika Award for Contemporary Art, the same year she contributed to the curatorial vision for Home AKL, the first major survey show of Pacific artists at Auckland Art Gallery.

Under the umbrella of PIMPI (Pacific Island Management, Production and Ideas), Ema undertakes consultancy work in project and event management, research, writing and curatorial projects. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Arts Management from AUT University.

Exhibition enquiries

Ema Tavola (Curator)
Email | Mobile 027 5779369 | Twitter @colourmefiji | Web

In the first of three two-week exhibitions that make up the inaugural PIMPI Winter Series, U Can’t Touch This is a site-specific group show that acknowledges the head, the hair and the selfie. In many parts of Oceania, the head is the most sacred part of the body, and in the words of Stanley Kirk Burrell, U Can’t Touch This!

Situated in and around the barber shop floor, four Pacific artists have created new work about the head (literally), and the most important and sacred parts of life. Alongside Mt Eden local, Samoan new media artist Siliga David Setoga, this show features the work of three first-time exhibitors, Talafungani Finau, Sione Monu and Daisy Tavilione. Each artist responds to the exhibition’s themes and context with custom pieces ranging from adornment to illustration, photography and print.

Canberra-based Tongan visual artist Sione Monu has established a keen following for his photography, painting and illustration work on Instagram. Beyond the indulgence of selfie-representation, he explores the potential of digital self-portraiture using apps, props, environments and people in his life, offering gentle insights into Tongan experience in Australia’s capital city. Monu’s whimsical illustrations are part fashion, part colonial sketchbook, suggestive of the loaded spaces between self and other, what is seen and who is looking.

West Papua and the work of Auckland-based collective, Oceania Interrupted, has informed and inspired South Auckland-based Tongan maker Talafungani Finau. Her custom-made garland is an ode to the past and future of the embattled Melanesian territory currently occupied by Indonesia. Commonly used to celebrate achievement and meaningful moments, the work acknowledges the surge of awareness and support amongst the Pacific community for the plight of West Papua and the ongoing fight for independence.

Daisy Tavilione‘s playfully reworked family portraits capture the influence of African American popular culture, hair and style on urban Polynesian experience in Aotearoa. Her series of fluro hand-pulled screen prints is based on illustrations of her family’s abundant photographic portrait collection; studio-based, classically posed and controlled reminders of familial bonds and pictorial genealogy. In the adding and subtracting of features and patterns, Tavilione’s new portraits speak to a wider blended experience of Poly-global history and fiction.

In Siliga David Setoga‘s new work he addresses the cultural expectations and binaries of long versus short hair. His noted performance practice is reflected in two new photographic and print works that focus on the process and stages  of having his own hair cut. With a background in the T-shirt trade, Setoga has a keen interest in accessing new audiences with his trademark visual style and pointed cultural commentary.

U Can’t Touch This is the first exhibition in the inaugural PIMPI Winter Series. Over eight weeks, three site specific exhibitions open back-to-back showcasing the work of 12 visual artists of Asian-Pacific heritage at Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio. The initiative is a collaboration between Ema Tavola (Curator) and Stan Lolohea (Owner-Operator) to celebrate new ways to consider Pacific art, ideas and experience in Aotearoa New Zealand. As a collaboration between two Pacific business entities, the PIMPI Winter Series also aims to enable Pacific artists to show and sell new work to support their professional development and audience exposure.

U Can’t Touch This
16 July – 1 August
Private View
6-8pm, Thursday 16 July
Talafungani Finau, Sione Monu, Siliga David Setoga, Daisy Tavilione

Big Willie Legacy Barber & Tattoo Studio is located at 159 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland.
Open Mondays from 9am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-7pm.
Appointments and enquiries: (09) 630 4380 /

Exhibition and Artwork Enquiries

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