Kulimoe’anga Stone Maka
Tongan painter based in Christchurch, Aotearoa
Postcards Unlocked #4
Our Tongan culture; such as our language, our dances, our arts and song; is steeped in metaphor. The Black Tapa or Ngatu ‘uli encapsulates this and is therefore the core of my art practice.
The art of the metaphor is abundant in my culture, as it is in most cultures in the Pacific. To illustrate this, the Tongan language is made up of three dialogues. The highest is metaphorical, then that used by the nobles and finally the commoners’ dialogue. The lyrics of our songs are usually not direct speech, as the analogies and metaphors used mask stories of our warfare, our love stories and even our genealogy. With our dances, our hand and body movements tell a plain story for outsiders, but to the composer/choreographer there is a hidden meaning.
It is this reason I have chosen the Black Tapa because of its abstract nature and form. It makes me feel safe to share my ideas because there is a plain message to satisfy outsiders, but a hidden and deeper meaning for myself and anyone willing to diligently search for it.
In present time my work has evolved in appearance but it still derives inspiration from the Ngatu ‘uli or Ngatu ta ‘uli. I’ve experimented with different mediums over the years such as smoke and more recently my latest project combines Black Tapa with spider webs. I’m excited to release this new body of work soon.