On Friday July 3 we opened Tautai Gallery and made history together!
We welcomed the community into our gallery for the first time with inaugural opening exhibition Moana Legacy.
Check out the Opening Night photo gallery’s below!
Our new expanded space was officially opened by Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, The Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern alongside a host of speakers including Founding Patron Fatu Feu’u, Representatives from Ngati Whatua and Creative New Zealand and our Board. We also acknowledge the attendance of The Right Hon. Carmel Sepuloni, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
Curated by Cora-Allan Wickliffe, Moana Legacy marks a moment in the history of Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust opening its first gallery space.
Tāmaki-born Cook Island artist Ahsin Ahsin (Aitu, Aitutaki) distills his imagination into fantastic creatures, sigils, graffiti-marking and gestures suspended in hyperspace. Influenced by sci-fi films, street art and pop culture of the 80s & 90s, Ahsin communicates the notions of neo-pop in his mural sized designs and multi-disciplinary practice.
Working between Kirikiriroa (Hamilton, Aotearoa) and Naarm (Melbourne, Australia), Ahsin has exhibited extensively throughout Aotearoa in international shows. Most recently, participating in the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Centre Project – Te Whāinga: A Culture Lab on Civility at Silo Park as well as his exhibition ‘Neon Utopia’ at the Tauranga Art Gallery as part of the international show ‘Mega World’.
“My contribution to Moana Legacy is a mural of my crocodile characters, that I have been creating for a while now. They stemmed from an interest in ancient Greek/Roman vase paintings.”
Living and working on Gadigal & Darug land (Sydney, Australia), Talia Smith is a Taranaki-born artist, writer and curator who explores themes central to her Moana heritage through photographic and moving image mediums. As a second-generation Aotearoa-born indigenous woman, much of her practice explores the investigation of intangible space that those of similar backgrounds can exist and occupy.
Talia has been recognised for her curatorial practice by multiple Australian arts institutions including Firstdraft’s emerging curator for 2017 and Artbank’s emerging curator for 2018. As an artist she has exhibited widely in Australia and Aotearoa. In 2020, she is ‘the churchie’ curator for the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane and has completed the AIR_Frankfurt Program,as curator-in-residence with Basis in Frankfurt, Germany.
Her contribution to Moana Legacy ‘Surfacing’ is a photographic installation based her Masters of Fine Arts research that explores the tenuous link between past, present and future. A stripped back frame adorned with dreamy images from her multiple homelands – her ancestral homeland of the Cook Islands, her current home in Sydney and her birth home Aotearoa.
“Exploring my lived experience of being Cook Island, Sāmoan and New Zealand European, this work looks to explore how the vā can be used as a space for those of a Moana heritage to create their identities outside of Western structures, a place where time is not linear and we are informed by ours and our ancestors experiences.”
Israel Randell is a multi-disciplinary
artist of Cook Island (Rarotonga) and Māori (Tainui, Ngāti Kahungunu) descent,
who explores the notions of innovation as tradition through installations,
performances and spatial activations.
Israel’s work often activates dormant
spaces within urban landscapes as a way to expose communities to new ways of
thinking. Her practice is underpinned by cosmological theories of space and the
parallels found in her Pasifika and Māori culture.
Born in the Waikato region, Israel attended Hungry Creek Art School in Tāmaki Makaurau before moving to Toi Moana (Bay of Plenty) with her young family. Most recently, she was the Supreme Award winner at the 2020 Tauranga Art Gallery, Miles Art Awards.
“Randell works with light and its adversary – dark. Her sculptural light forms create a space where one can experience Matauranga Māori (knowledge)”
Gina Ropiha (Ngāti Kahungunu/Ngāti Kere, Ngāti
Raukawa/Ngāti Rakau) is a practising artist who hails from Heretaunga
(Hastings) and is based in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia). Working primarily with
found and repurposed objects, Ropiha’s art reflects her experience addressing
the harsh realities and tests of living as an indigenous woman within colonised
lands, while trying to maintain a sense of Māoritanga (Māori culture) and
Rophia has exhibited internationally and was an Artist in Residence at the Australian Tapestry Workshop 2017. She is active member of Motu Taim (formerly Pacific Women’s Weaving Circle) and has been a teacher and tutor in arts education for 19 years.
Featuring works with her actual hair in the exhibition, Gina has gently woven kete as a tribute to Wurundjeri artist Georgia MacGuire. The use of hair was a means of expressing the regret, sorrow and grief felt when witnessing Georgia’s story.
Born to a Kanak father and Anglo-Argentinian/European mother, Naawie Tutugoro is a Tāmaki Makaurau-born multi-disciplinary artist. Her practice comprises of site-specific works that illuminate negotiations of place and space specific to the urban Pasifika experience.
Tutugoro is currently living on Waiheke island, and has exhibited throughout Tāmaki Makaurau. Most recently, she collaborated with her friend and sculptor Jenny Takahasi Palmer on the exhibition ‘*subtleRESPECT’ at Window Gallery and is currently completing her Master of Fine Arts at ELAM.
“Hair discrimination and invisibility has been something I have become aware of growing up with afro hair.”
– Naawie Tutugoro, 2020
Growing up, especially as women, we are bombarded with contradicting desires and messages regarding beauty standards and self-acceptance. The idea of taming one’s hair is assimilation in practice, altering oneself to fit into the mould of what is considered acceptable.
“Bendy Rollers”, are a product used to alter the texture/style or hair speaking to ideas of cultural appropriation and fetishisation of black and brown bodies. By re-purposing the curlers as connections of a lei, Naawie dismantles the meanings attached to the material and in a decolonising act, the lei of hair curlers is transformed into an imagined umbilical cord to the spirit world.
“…Maybe in a few million years I’ll still be here to hear that star answer back. Somewhere still standing with you, still there above and roaring, well above, at the apex of all things, seeing our flaming sun dim above a dying world…”
– Excerpt from Across the Face of the Moon (2019)
Rangituhia Hollis (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) is an artist, writer and educator. His practice employs a range of collaborative strategies, often resulting in large-scale digital animation video works or interactive social engagement projects that explore Aotearoa’s postcolonial context. He often develops work using emerging or unconventional technologies. He has exhibited throughout Aotearoa in leading public museums and galleries.
Brisbane-born Fijian artist Mereani Qalovakawasa uses her multidisciplinary practice to shed light on living with a chronic illness. Sharing her personal experiences living with the autoimmune disease – lupus, she aims to reduce the fear and shame of being sick, particularly in Pasifika communities.
In 2018, Qalovakawasa participated in her first exhibition with New Wayfinders called ‘Ocean Stories From Home’ at Connection Art Space, this will be her first time exhibiting in Aotearoa.
Mereani’s illness and the experiences it brings to her life spark her use of online and computer-based media works. Filming on an old Big W camera, drawing using MS Paint and editing on MovieMaker, she depicts her own legacy through sharing the timeline of her health. These small clips give an intimate part of her journey through chemo and the battles she faces daily.
“Pacific people are often depicted as the image of vibrant health and beauty, physically strong and joyful, glowing brown skin, thick hair, skilled athletes and graceful dancers, laughing in the hot sun. My life isn’t bad, it’s just different from most people. I try to make life with a chronic illness as pleasant as I can. I find joy in making films to share a glimpse of my life.”
Originally from Waitakere, Cora-Allan Wickliffe (Ngāpuhi, Tainui, Alofi and Liku) is a multi-disciplinary artist and curator, who likes to examine and explore representations of Indigenous people through her work. Her sister Kelly Lafaiki, based in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia) is a student of hiapo and has helped to collaborate on the exhibition piece.
Exploring themes of ceremony and memory we are re-tracing using silhouetted objects filled with the language of hiapo to share stories of Niue that were passed down at the food table from our grandparents.
Stories of Niue, dances, mena kai and songs were shared throughout our childhood in comfortable and often uncomfortable moments of learning dances and how to cook traditional dishes.
“Our grandparents guided us with stern voices when we were young but grew softer as we all aged. Time spent together over meals and over beers became an environment of admiration and learning.”
Cora-Allan Wickliffe, 2019
These moments would tie them to becoming hiapo makers and this current work explores the moments of mourning they experienced with the passing of their Grandfather Vakaafi Lafaiki in April 2019.
As a contemporary practitioner of hiapo (Niuean barkcloth), Wickliffe has revived a sleeping artform. Her work is very important to her community and has been exhibited in Australia, Aotearoa, England and Niue. Currently, Wickliffe is the curator and exhibitions manager at Corbans Estate Arts Centre.
Moana Legacy is Tautai’s first exhibition in its new gallery space, the show has been developed from an existing partnership with Blak Dot Gallery, Naarm (Melbourne) featuring moana artists working in both Aotearoa and Australia. Continuing the conversation in Tautai’s new expanded space in the heart of Auckland, this show offers up assorted approaches to the idea of legacy.
As artists of the moana, one often looks back to move forward, contemplating the connections to ancestors and finding a place within a narrative that is as deep as the ocean itself. Our ancestors left behind stories of legend with impressive characters, some continue to shape our contemporary stories of today.
A legacy is the story of someone’s life, it is something that a person leaves behind to be remembered. Legacies are pathways that guide people with their own decision-making – inspiring them to build a legacy of their own.
With this in mind, the artists in this exhibition investigate notions of legacy and their link to the moana. Featuring photography, installation, video, sculpture, hiapo and painting, Moana Legacy is a celebration of our own legacies and what it means to be an artist of the Pacific