SALTWATER / Interconnectivity artist Peter Elavera speaks to his work Unity Wall which highlights West Papua’s struggle for freedom and self-determination, sharing the message that “West Papua’s freedom is will be Pacific’s freedom”.
On December 1st, Tautai hosted a solidarity event ‘One Solwara, One Love’, to commemorate what should be West Papuan Independence Day. As part of the event, Peter shared his message of solidarity with his West Papuan brothers and sisters.
“Memory is such a powerful thing. I could have the sad story of – I was taken away from my culture, I was taken away from Tonga… but I think if culture is strong enough it will never leave you and as you can see, you are the culture.”
Fakaue lahi to everyone who came through on Thursday night to support, witness and celebrate an incredible exhibition!
Check out the photo gallery’s below!
‘SALTWATER / Interconnectivity’ is such a special show and we acknowledge Katharine and Giles for their vision and bringing together this group of talented artists. To Telly, Te Ara, Shawnee, Peter, Kat and Gutiŋarra, we are so honoured to have each of your works in the gallery.
Fa’afetai tele lava to everyone who made Thursday such a special night. A huge shout out to the extraordinary performers – Fili and Noah from 4TK, Ankaramy and the LALO crew and Rosanna Raymond.
Ngā mihi nui ki a koe to the community for coming out and sharing in the celebrations with us, this space is for you and we hope to see you all again soon!
“SALTWATER/Interconnectivity foretells Tautai’s ongoing commitment to artists from Te Moana Nui a Kiwa. Presenting an understanding of reality in the present – within urban and sacred realms: the ever-flowing Moana/Solwara connects us all.”
An innovator of the contemporary Pasifika art scene, a long-standing member of the art collective Pacific Sisters, and founding member of the SaVAge K’lub. Raymond’s practice works with people, spaces and things to acti.VA.te a dynamic relationship between them, to realise and reshape the ta-va duality.
South Auckland based indigenous environmentalist group of youth who are committed to advocating against climate change through the lens that considers minorities. We rise for and ride out 4 Tha Kulture
Humiliation in return for Forgiveness. Accept it or not. LALO (below) takes you through the Samoan custom ‘Ifoga’. A formal apology where one seeks forgiveness from another by bowing down and humbling themselves. The offender appears covered in an ‘ie toga’ (fine mat). The only way forgiveness is granted is if the victim lifts the ‘ie toga from the offender.
Gutiŋarra Yunupiŋu (b. 1997, lives and works in Yirrkala, NT, Australia) is an Indigenous artist of the Gumatj clan, Yirritja moiety, and Buymarr homeland, working with film and digital media to capture the stories of his kin. Despite being deaf since birth he has managed to overcome many barriers. From 2015 he has worked at The Mulka Project in Yirrkala, as a Project Officer and filmmaker, often travelling out to Yolŋu homelands where he regularly films cultural ceremonies and events.
Gutiŋarra was awarded the 2019 Telstra NATSIAA Multimedia Award for his 6k filmwork Gurruṯu mi’ mala (My Connections) which demonstrates his connections to his people and his country through the Yolŋu kinship-system of gurruṯu. In this artwork he reveals his position in the world of gurruṯu through his first language, barrkuŋu waŋa (language from a distance) Yolŋu sign language. Gurruṯu’mi mala was also exhibited at AGSA as part of Tarnanthi 2019 and has received great interest due to the fascinating concept underlying this art piece and his history as a film maker and artist. 2019 was an exceptional year for Gutiŋarra as he was also a finalist for the NT Young Australian of the Year Awards.
“Gurruṯu’mi Mala demonstrates my connections to my family, my people and my country through the Yolŋu kinship system of gurruṯu. Gurruṯu not only links me to my clan and my homeland, but to all clans and their homelands. Gurruṯu dictates my connections and relationships to all Yolŋu… past, present and future.”
Māku e kī atu, he rite tonu ki te toto o ōku tūpuna.
The work of Te Ara Minhinnick centres around the alliances of people, space, and place, stemming from her Ipu Karea – the ancestral homelands of her Iwi, Ngāti Te Ata. Te Ara emphasises a responsibility in this by employing methods of practice that offer ‘wayfinding’ vessels into the contemporary realities of Mātauranga Māori.
Te Ara grew up often scolded by her aunties for playing bull rush out the front of her Marāe in Waiuku. She is a Kohanga and Kura Kaupapa Māori pēpi. Who is now, currently undertaking a Masters of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe College. Most recently, Te Ara facilitated a series of wānanga for her first solo show titled TAU (to find grounding) at Audio Foundation.
Shawnee Tekii uses art as a tool to create social engagement. Often tackling the political issues that surround the community. The digital age plays a large role in underpinning her practice. Shawnee’s work is often influenced by mainstream media and through the use of bold aesthetics and Instagram worthy graphics, she aims to communicate her political agenda directly to audiences of her generation. Her work encourages the use of mobile phones to either document or activate deeper conceptual content. She often draws inspiration from graphic design in advertising and branding – resulting in bold, attention seeking works.
Peter Elavera’s style of work is a fusion of pop art, street graffiti art, elements and principles of graphic design, symbolism, patterns and fine arts.
He is currently a leader in modern contemporary urban street art in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG). His artwork incorporates social activism statements on issues of injustice, inequality and conservation of the natural environment. His interest in harnessing the potency of street art, and enhancing its application started in 2007.
Recently, Peter and his crew, known as the Kamilion Art Krew (KAKS), completed a massive sports stadium wall mural, measuring 769m in circumference in Port Moresby. The sports stadium, known locally as Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, took them 12-months to complete (October of 2018 – October 2019).
Currently Peter and his crew are working on an 800m long sea-wall mural project, in Port Moresby, under the theme, Radioactive Ocean. It brings awareness to conservation of ocean and marine life.
Peter received his art and design mentoring at the Creative Arts Faculty of the University of Papua New Guinea, and graduated in 1996, majoring in Graphic Design.
may this space light the fire within you that has been extinguished, may your peace that’s been disrupted find harmony in all living things, may your tino, mafaufau, and agaga feel held,
I invite you to just be in this space of interconnectedness; remember, navigate, reflect, meditate, thank, manava i totonu; exchange your love, your rage, your energy, your joy, your distaste, your healing; share what you must with the Moana. They will be returned with what you pour into them.
we are connected, we are profound, we are resilient, we are powerful, manava i totonu; po, po, po.
Katharine Losi is a devoted daughter, sister and godmother with a beautiful vessel that houses her resilient soul, powerful heart and unshakeable spirit… that’s on PERIYAD! Her social art practice is an evolving ecosystem of Moana healing methodologies, spirituality, community engagement and is grounded in unconditional love. By confronting cultural norms, societal expectations and systematic oppressions; Katharine Losi uses her lived experiences to create an alternative way of operating and living in our everyday. CHE CHE CHEEHOO!
Telly Tuita was born in Tonga in 1980 and immigrated to Brisbane, Australia in 1989. In 2017, Telly immigrated to Lyall Bay, Wellington, NZ. Telly has a Bachelor of Fine Art from Western Sydney University, a Bachelor of Art Education from the University of New South Wales, and a Masters in Special Education through the University of Sydney. Telly has been and a High School art teacher, a Special education teacher and an Assistant Principal at Green Square School primary school and community centre (2015 – 2017).
After working in education Telly returned to art making, full time. Telly Tuita’s art practice encompasses painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation, photo media and performance. He has exhibited in exhibitions in Australia and New Zealand, and has work in the collection of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Telly’s installation titled I LEFT MY HEART IN TONGPOP showcases ten years of a body of work that carries the spirit of Oceania.
Tautai Gallery is transformed to embody the Moana / Solwara worldview
Co-curators Katharine Losi Atafu-Mayo and Giles Peterson have transformed the Tautai Gallery to embody the Moana/Solwara worldview with SALTWATER/Interconnectivity on until January 30, 2021.
Peterson references the late Teresia Teaiwa, ‘she summed it up so well – we sweat and cry salt water, so we know that the ocean is really in our blood – this is the key ingredient for the building blocks of life, it’s also the essence of who we are and captures the incredible journey of navigating the Moana / Solwara.’ Atafu-Mayo and Peterson understand fully the flow of life, the two first meeting as teacher and student. ‘I taught Kat but I find myself learning so much from her, it really has been quite incredible, she’s amazing,’ he says of their collaboration.
‘We’re using a grand scale to highlight its focus from our incredible artists and that will be apparent to those visiting the show,’ says Peterson and Atafu-Mayo. The curators are excited that the show’s narratives around social justice, equity, gender and sexuality identity, climate change, language diaspora and ancestral knowledge are viewed uniquely through a Moana / Solwara worldview.