Talofa lava! Introducing Tyla Vaeau!
Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa
Tyla is a tatau practitioner, known for her unique ability to combine the contemporary with the traditional in her art. She emphases the importance of talanoa when it comes to her practice, her tattoos are more than just pictures, they symbolise one’s background and their identity. For Tyla, tatau is everything that is important to her such as art, family, community and history all in one. Tyla is widely renowned for her practice and is the first fafine to have been gifted the ‘au, a customary tatau tool.
Get an insight into Tyla’s tatau process, she explains the importance of talanoa and how working from home has brought a deeper meaning to her practice. She shares with us some images from her home sessions.
“Moving tatau “back” home has felt like an important move forward. The significance of place has also been evident as the many Pasifika families that come to receive tatau at our fale share their connection to Grey Lynn, a suburb that has a rich Moana history.”Tyla Vaeau
Fale-ship Tatau Portrait Series
Part 1: Annalina Crosbie
Annalina shares her experience of receiving tatau from Tyla!
“My dad was born in the village of Elisefoe
in the island of Upolu, Samoa, which is where my nana, his mother, is from.
This is where the Tusitala family is from, which is my father’s last name &
my middle name. My Pa (grandfather) is from the village of Fugalei just outside
of Apia on the island of Upolu, Samoa.
Me and my aiga have a special bond – one that I treasure the most in this world. They are the first people I run to with good news and bad news, the first people I want to share my success with, and the best people to laugh with. They are my strength and the reason that I am who I am. I got my tatau to acknowledge this, and to carry me forward – chest first – into my journey ahead. My Grandparents and I had a really special relationship too. Both were battling cancer for years before they passed, Nana in 2009 & Pa in 2018, just days before my birthday. To have the same markings on my chest that were on Pa’s Pe’a as well as markings for my Nana somewhat grounds me. It makes me feel whole. I am a result of how my aiga have loved and nurtured me, and this tattoo reminds me daily that I can achieve anything with my village behind me.
Fa’afetai lava Tyla for revealing my markings. They mean more to me than words can express.”
Part 2: Saskia Strand-Saseve
Lotofaga and Apia
Saskia explains to Tyla the many meanings behind her tatau.
“My tatau represents the strength I have found through other wxmen, while also representing and reminding me of my ancestors, and their strength, power and traditions.”
Part 3: Hiram Fa’alia Vaeau
Hiram describes how his tatau has changed and expanded over the years.
“My sleeve tatau represents my connection to my aiga and culture. It started as a taulima by Tyla and grew to cover my arm over a few years, as my sleeve expanded so did my appreciation for tatau and my want to understand more about my Samoan heritage. The sleeve was completed when Tyla ka’d my hand using the ‘au, to receive these markings from my older sister makes it even more significant. I am proud of the work she is doing and feel fortunate to be on this journey with her, working alongside her in our family studio.”
Q+A Talanoa with Tyla and Leafa
Leafa: “When you’re tattooing…do you feel the hand of your ancestors?”
Tyla: “Yeah, I definitely…when I’m tattooing I know that I’m not working alone… especially when I’m working with the traditional tools.”