D.A.N.C.E. Papakura!

8 06 2011

Papakura Art Gallery manager, Tracey Williams reflects on the D.A.N.C.E. Art Club performance programmed to coincide with Sheyne Tuffery’s solo exhibition, The Ancient Mariners.

Auckland based artists collective D.A.N.C.E. (Distinguished All Night Community Entertainers) presented a one-off performance for the Pacific Arts Summit at Papakura Art Gallery on May 21 in response to Sheyne Tuffery’s show The Ancient Mariners currently on show at the gallery.

Tuffery’s show, also part of the Pacific Arts Summit, is his response to recently becoming a Matai (Samoan chief). The artist said being given the title made him look at Polynesian history afresh, particularly the “incredible seafaring of our Ancestors”.

D.A.N.C.E. picked up on Tuffery’s themes of nautical antiquity when developing their work for the Summit, leading to the building of a symbolic vaka/waka, which they paraded from the water at Prince Edward Park, through the main street of Papakura, then on to the gallery in Averill Street.

Papakura came under the authority of the Auckland Council about six months ago. The area, accessed via the last off ramp on the Southern motorway, is located on the shores of the Pahurehure Inlet, approximately 32 kilometres south of Auckland’s CBD. Many locals resisted the idea of joining the super city, wanting to retain its distinct rural/urban identity. The D.A.N.C.E. event served to symbolically claim this space within the new city structure – as an addition to South Auckland and its dense Pasifika influences.

The action of steering the vaka/waka from the water’s edge through the main street also served as an allegory for the navigation of shared spaces by different cultures – particularly looking to history when Pacifika people first arrived in New Zealand.  Elam postgraduate student Debbie Stenzel who joined in the parade described this in detail:

It seems that whenever I participate in a performance piece, I experience something profound.  Something that cannot come from any other source or be learned any other way – perhaps some type of inner continuum switch that is only activated by the collective sharing of an experience? 

While walking in procession behind the waka and crew, I began to question my own place within today’s multi-cultural society. My thoughts seemed as if they were being echoed by the waka’s journey as it was forced to veer around obstacles, lower itself to avoid collision and to walk confidently when it’s right of way was questioned. 


While observing the waka’s difficulty navigating the modern landscape, I noticed that people were watching us – not just a quick glance or an inquisitive look, they were staring, some with mouths agape in some kind of peculiar reenactment of the colonial gaze. It was at this point I started to feel very self conscious, a touch embarrassed, that through their behaviour we had been relegated to the status of a modern day ethnographic curiosity. Perhaps parallel to the recreation of a Pacific Island peoples past journey, a modern immigrant experience of Aotearoa was inadvertently performed? In that moment I felt that time had changed very little.

When we reached about half way along Great South Road, there was a noticeable shift in energy. I don’t know where it came from or how to describe it other than those feelings of not belonging, or of being observed, dissipated – giving way to a feeling of oneness or acceptance. As we turned into Averill Street, an overwhelming sense of purpose seemed to clear the way forward and the waka led us ashore to the gallery doors where we shared the warmth of music, food and ourselves as we celebrated our journey together on a purposeful autumn morning.

D.A.N.C.E. – consisting of  visual artists Chris Fitzgerald, Ahilapalapa Rands, Linda.T and Maila Urale – facilitates art gatherings whereby boundaries are blurred between creative disciplines and social engagement is the key focus. Events by the collective are art installations that incorporate themed music, food, refreshments and entertainment – with the aim of encouraging audience participation as a way of making art accessible to a wider audience.

Tuffery, based in Petone, is a multi-media visual artist who works primarily in painting, moving image and printmaking. He is perhaps best known for the dynamic style of his prints and woodcuts, describing himself as ‘a paper architect who uses his work to create and represent his own cultural context and sense of belonging’. Tuffery’s prints and paintings often envisage Polynesia as a futuristic urban utopia; with the Samoan fale as the symbolic archetype for skyscrapers, apartment housing and rocket ships (vaka) – reflecting the artist’s research into his Samoan heritage and symbolism.

Vinaka vakalevu Sheyne, D.A.N.C.E. Art Club and Tracey and the team at Papakura Art Gallery!


Friday night Summit movies

8 06 2011

The film component of the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit was Square Eyes, a film evening presented by Leilani Kake at Manukau Institute of Technology’s newly formed Faculty of Creative Arts premises, the Manukau School of Visual Arts.

We took the opportunity to screen some of the videos that have been made for the Pacific Arts Summit by South Auckland-based Samoan film maker, Tanu Gago.

The screening of Dan Taulapapa McMullin‘s documentary, Ula: The Garland was the feature of the evening. Although a work in progress, this important piece of Pacific art history documents interviews with a huge range of Pacific creative practitioners from the US, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa and Aotearoa.

The trailer from Ula: The Garland – a work in progress

Congratulations Leilani and all the young film makers who had their work shown for Square Eyes and vinaka vakalevu to Manukau Institute of Technology and students for their support!

Gary Lee on gorgeousness

4 06 2011

Gary Lee discusses his solo exhibition, gorgeousness at Fresh Gallery Otara with Samoan film maker, Tanu Gago. gorgeosness runs until 25 June 2011.

Curating Pacific Art Forum

26 05 2011

The 2nd Curating Pacific Art Forum took place on Saturday 21 May at AUT University’s beautiful new Manukau Campus.

It was great to have Jim Vivieaere, noted Pacific curator in attendance. Concept Leader / Visual Arts Curator at Waikato Museum, Leafa Wilson delivered an inspiring paper entitled, Curating Yourself: The Curator as The Point of Departure and paid homage to Jim’s pioneering practice.

Dagmar Dyke + Christina Jeffery (Tautai Trust)

Lealiifano Albert Refiti (AUT University), Safua Akeli (Te Papa Tongarewa – Museum of New Zealand), Jim Vivieaere + Angela Tiatia

Lealiifano Albert Refiti, Senior Lecturer in Spatial Design in the School of Art and Design, AUT University, delivered the opening address, noting the institution’s commitment to serving the Pacific communities of Manukau.

Bruce E. Phillips, Curator at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts (Pakuranga, Auckland) and independent curator, Luisa Tora discussed international exhibition projects Close Encounters (Hyde Park Art Centre, Chicago, USA) and VASU: Pacific Women of Power (University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji).

Nicole Lim (Fresh Gallery Otara), Margaret Aull (Te Wananga o Aotearoa) + Gareth Dyer (AUT University)

Ema Tavola + Leafa Wilson

The final panel: Ema Tavola (Fresh Gallery Otara), Leafa Wilson (Waikato Museum), Dionne Fonoti (National University of Samoa / Ivilasi Films), Bruce E. Phillips (Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts) and Luisa Tora.

Curator, writer and educator Ian Wedde contributed closing remarks, drawing on the meaning of the word ‘community’, a recurring theme throughout the day.

Sean Mallon (Te Papa Tongarewa – Museum of New Zealand) with Fulimalo Pereira (Auckland Museum) and her daughter.

Leafa Wilson, Luisa Tora + Daniel Satele

Ian Wedde + Bruce E. Phillips

Ema Tavola, Karl Chitham + Leafa Wilson

Our excellent MC, Nigel Borell (Kaiwhakahaere – Maori Arts Advisor, Auckland Council South) with Kolokesa Mahina-Tuai and friend.

Keynote presentation, The Soul, The Image and The Voice by Dionne Fonoti will be posted here soon.

  • We want to know what you’d like to know, hear about, think about, be inspired by for the next Curating Pacific Art Forumemail your thoughts to Ema Tavola
  • A video documenting the event will be posted here soon!

A BIG vinaka vakalevu to AUT University for partnering on a very inspiring day of dialogue!

Vinaka vakalevu Tagata Pasifika!

22 05 2011

Very happy to have some of the Pacific Arts Summit events profiled on Tagata Pasifika [TVNZ] this week. Vinaka vakalevu Marama Papau and team!

The Ancient Mariners

22 05 2011

Wellington-based Samoan artist, Sheyne Tuffery’s solo exhibition The Ancient Mariners has opened at Papakura Art Gallery and it’s BEAUTIFUL!

Becoming a Matai (Samoan Chief) was the catalyst for Sheyne Tuffery’s multimedia exhibition The Ancient Mariners. Tuffery said he responded to the significance of being given the title of Matai by taking a fresh look at Polynesian history.

“The Ancient Mariners is an exhibition depicting my perpetual fascination with Polynesian antiquity and the incredible seafaring of our ancestors. My new work is an artist’s depiction of Island life when the Polynesians were searching of new lands to start new cultures 2000 years before the first missionaries began to even think about coming down here.”

Tuffery, based in Wellington, works predominantly in mixed media painting, moving image and printmaking. Perhaps best known for the dynamic style of his prints and woodcuts, Sheyne describes himself as a paper architect, using his work to create and represent his own cultural context and sense of belonging.

Images courtesy of Papakura Art Gallery

What: The Ancient Mariners // A solo exhibition by Sheyne Tuffery
Where: Papakura Art Gallery, 10 Averill Street, Papakura, South Auckland
When: 14 May – 11 June
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 10am – 2pm

US Ambassador Huebner in the house!

19 05 2011

Today the US Ambassador David Huebner visited Fresh Gallery Otara! He checked out Gary Lee’s solo exhibition, gorgeousness and met with Fresh Gallery Otara artists Tanu Gago, Rebecca Hobbs, Leilani Kake and Cerisse Palalagi.

Ema gushing about gorgeousness 😛