Interviews

Artist and educator, Leilani Kake, is organising Square Eyes – a Pacific film night in the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit…

Tell us why you wanted to do this event
I guess to have a free, open forum to celebrate the mediums of film and video art. With technology such as video capable mobile phones and YouTube, young people have access to creating stories and communicating them internationally. Video installation is increasingly visible in the art schools because I think the message is immediate.

Tell us about the selection process
It’s a little bit of everything from established film makers to emerging film makers to video artists. It’s about relaying no kind of hierarchy but to celebrate the kaupapa.

What do you love about seeing Pacific Island stories in the medium of video and film?
With Pacific Island stories and storytellers, there’s no one fixed Pacific Island identity – there are so many different stories and we can all celebrate them. For our younger generations, whether its stories from the Islands or New Zealand-born stories, they all relate to us. And whether you’re from South Auckland, or from California, we all have that common thread of being Pacific Island – it weaves us together. Square Eyes will celebrate and validate our voices.

Is it important that video art is seen in the context of short film and traditional filmic language?
It’s a good coat tail to ride on! Video art is so experimental so I think it’s a good way to break up a programme of short films. It might be quite hard to get an audience to come and watch video art, so it’s a good way to broaden the audience for video art. It also broadens the audience’s experience of the medium of moving image.

Pollywood Shorts happens once a year around the Auckland region, what’s on offer that’s different from Pollywood?
It’s great to have different varieties of Pacific film festivals, however our one is free! Spending money on parking, transport and entry fees is actually a luxury and it’s sad when art becomes a luxury for our communities.

Creating an opportunity with the Faculty of Creative Arts at Manukau Institute of Technology and the South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit with local audiences is a really positive move for film and video art, and arts in general in South Auckland.

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A short chat with Daren Kamali, performance poet, youth worker and musician. Daren will launch his new bilingual poetry book, Poems and Songs from the Underwater World at Fresh Gallery Otara in the first week of the Pacific Arts Summit…

Tell us about your new book, Poems and Songs from the Underwater World

This is a book / CD compilation, a book with visual (illustrations by Leahna Gill, animations by Munro Te Whata) written words (tales, poems and songs) and a CD recording of spoken word / songs recorded at Otara Music Arts Centre (OMAC). This collection of the Underwater World expresses my connection to the ocean and the islands featuring sea creatures and island imagery that signifies important people and places in my life.

How did you meet the team (Editor – Robert Sullivan, Fijian translator – Apolonia Tamata, Illustrator – Leahna Gill) who have collaborated with you to make this project a reality?

I first met the editor of my writings Robert Sullivan last year and enrolled in his creative writing Diploma at the Faculty of Creative Arts (Manukau Institute of Technology) this year. I met Dr Apolonia Tamata (translator of my writings into Fijian) for the first time at the Pacific Arts Association Symposium in Rarotonga last August, and later got to facilitate a five day intensive indigenous workshop for her through the Fijian Trust Fund Board in Suva, Fiji, which was also funded by Creative New Zealand. I met Leahna on Facebook; after seeing her paintings on her page I knew it was appropriate for my book and she agreed so it all flowed from there. Also the other animator Munro Te Whata I met this year at the same creative writing course, I love his work, he gives a certain reality to the visuals in my book which is refreshing.


The Pacific Arts Association Symposium on Tagata Pasifika (August 2010)

With your work in published anthologies of Pacific and New Zealand poetry, it’s a real honour to host your launch here at Fresh Gallery Otara. What do you enjoy about time and space in South Auckland?

I’ve always been a Central [Auckland] boy but over the last two years, South Auckland has been my home giving me another burst of creativity energy, lighting up a fire to move forward with my visions which have inspired this combination of poetry, sound and visual arts to create something innovative like this. Thanks South Auckland and Fresh Gallery Otara for supporting my vision. I feel like I’m growing in leaps and bounds as a writer/creator since I moved south… blessup.

Where can people buy your book?

It’ll be available on the night (Thursday 5 May). I’m currently talking to a few publishers and have just sent my manuscript to Huia Publishers, fingers crossed at the mo’… hear back from them soon. Will keep everyone posted on sales and availability of product as soon as I can… Vinaka.

So… what’s next for Daren Kamali?

To push my book/CD in NZ, around the Pacific and internationally… to complete my creative writing Diploma by the end of 2011… to keep facilitating creative youth workshops, keep leading South Auckland Poets Collective into the future. Most of all stay true to my artistic visions and to who I really am as a man, a father and a believer in all things possible and positive.

Vinaka vakalevu Daren!

Daren’s first bilingual poetry book, Poems and Songs from the Underwater World launches at Fresh Gallery Otara in the first week of the Pacific Arts Summit. An exhibition of original works by Leahna Gill will also be on display from 3-7 May.

Book Launch: Poems and Songs from the Underwater World by Daren Kamali
When: 6pm, Thursday 5 May
Where:
Fresh Gallery Otara, Otara Town Centre, South Auckland

Come along and meet the poet! A free event! All welcome!

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Indigenous Australian photographer Gary Lee’s first international solo exhibition is one of four exciting solo exhibitions taking place within the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit. gorgeousness marks Fresh Gallery Otara’s 5th Anniversary, an event at the core of the Summit. We caught up with Gary to find out more about his work, inspiration and plans…


Can you tell us about your exhibition ‘gorgeousness’?

This exhibition is a bit of a ‘snapshot’ (excuse the pun) of my photographic portraits from the past decade. The title came about after I heard a friend use the word in casual conversation, I’d never really heard the word before and it kind of just struck me as a good way to describe my photographs which are mainly concerned with ideas of male beauty in often overlooked places. The idea of ‘gorgeousness’ conveys something that is much more than ‘beautiful’, it’s almost a bit over-the-top but very accessible at the same time, like the way we might fawn over a particularly cute baby or someone with a beaming, totally un-self-conscious smile. I am interested in ‘beauty’ as a concept because it’s so relative and there’s also a sense to me that it can’t be faked, just as my photographs aren’t manipulated in any way. The idea of ‘gorgeousness’ also relates to the sense of colour in these photographs. I’ve always photographed in colour partly because my practice began in India where daily life is such a feast of colour and I could never understand why you’d want to deny this richness by photographing in black-and-white even though there is a bit of a bias, as though black-and-white photos are somehow more artistic. My preference for colour has also been a desire to celebrate the colour of skin, and to highlight differences in skin tone. But in finalising the selection of portraits for this show I was mindful of the overall aesthetic of the image – the colour, the setting/composition, as well as the ‘subject’/the individual – to tease out the ‘gorgeousness’ premise.

Have you exhibited in New Zealand before?

I’ve never exhibited in New Zealand; in fact this will be my very first overseas solo exhibition.  After 20 years of practice, I’m really looking forward to showing my work here and as part of the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit too. This exhibition then is something that will be very special to me. The idea for the exhibition came about when Ema Tavola and I met in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, in August 2010.  She had liked my work a lot and I liked her and she asked me could I ever have an exhibition in Auckland?  I was very flattered and I said without hesitation that I’d love to. That’s simply how ‘gorgeousness’ was born.

What’s your attraction to exhibiting at Fresh Gallery Otara in South Auckland?

I like Fresh Gallery Otara because it’s a truly community gallery, not an elitist one at all, and it’s giving me the chance to share my portraiture with everyone. I like that very much as it reflects what I do in my photographs of everyday males.

What inspires you as an artist?

As an artist I am constantly inspired by the beauty of ordinary males of all ages. I look around me at boys or men and I see an indefinable quality in some that makes me reach for my camera. I can’t wait to photograph boys and men in New Zealand 🙂

What else do you want to see and do in Auckland in May?

I would like to soak up as much of the wonderful cultural atmosphere of everything that will be happening during the Summit, get to know Auckland and meet as many local people as I can. I’m also a fairly easy going person and I’m always looking for a chance to take a portrait wherever I go – so I’ll be on the lookout.  I’m so looking forward to coming there in May.

Vinaka vakalevu Gary!

Gary Lee’s solo exhibition gorgeousness runs from 13 May – 25 June at Fresh Gallery Otara, Otara Town Centre, South Auckland.

Join Gary for his exhibition floor talk from 12-2pm on Saturday 14 May – all welcome!

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Kolokesa Māhina-Tuai presents a fantastic and unique event for the first time in the 2011 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit. Mamas and Museums: Pacific Women’s Fine Arts and Museums Forum and Workshop looks to create mutual understanding and foster better communication between the museums sector and Pacific women fine artists. Kolokesa explains more about the project…

What is your background?

I have a background in Social Anthropology, Art History and in Museums and Heritage Studies. I also worked at Te Papa Museum as a Pacific Curator for about four years. Since leaving Te Papa in 2008, I have continued working on projects that promote, nurture and support Pacific Arts in general and Tongan Arts in particular, including curating shows at a more grassroots level.

What was the inspiration for this event?

The inspiration for this event actually developed during my time working at Te Papa. As a museum professional working with the wider Pacific communities I constantly came across a gap in the knowledge and understanding that our people have about museums. Another issue that we often came across, which is in fact universal and not confined to the Pacific only, had to do with conservation concerns relating to materials and resources used by our Pacific artists and practitioners. It was always a point of discussion and debate amongst curators, collection managers and conservators when an artwork – that was for example made of plastic, raffia or used glue and double-sided tape – was up for consideration for Te Papa’s Pacific collections. So I thought that focusing on conservation issues would provide a key point of intersection where Pacific Mamas, Museum professionals and interested participants can come together to discuss, debate and share their respective knowledge, experience  and perspectives.

What can audiences look forward to?

There will be various women artists representing a variety of island nations and in most cases representing women’s arts groups. A selection of artists/groups have been invited to display examples of their fine arts and also share with us a little bit about what they or the group do, the type and variety of art works they create and the materials and resources they use. There will also be representatives from Te Papa museum andAucklandMuseumwho will talk to us about the work they do with their respective Pacific collections. This will also include conservation workshop sessions run by the conservators from both museums. The Senior Pacific Arts Advisor from Creative New Zealand (CNZ) will also attend and present us with information on what they provide for Pacific arts and some of the upcoming initiatives they have put in place to support Pacific arts.

What do you love about working with Pacific women artists?

What I love about working with Pacific women artists of the ‘mamas’ generation, particularly those working in arts groups, is the crucial role that they play in not only maintaining and preserving our various art forms but also developing and refining these art forms to another level through sheer innovation, creativity and ingenuity. Their genuine love, passion and dedication to their art forms are a testament to the fact that some of these women artists and arts group have existed and been proactive for many, many, years, yet in most cases little or nothing is known about them in the mainstream arts world. This for me is not only inspiring but also humbling because of the very fact that these women come with such a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience that are invested into their art practice and the fine arts that they produce.

What: Mamas and Museums: Pacific Women’s Fine Arts and Museums Forum and Workshop
Where: Manukau Institute of Technology, Visual Arts Building (Z Block), 50 Lovegrove Crescent, Otara, South Auckland
When: 10am – 4pm, Friday and Saturday, 27-28 May
Registrations Essential: Contact Nicole at Fresh Gallery Otara: 09 271 6019 / Nicole.Lim@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz


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