Conversation about life experience.
I am a proud Pasifika artist and my project, Talanoa 'o e Mo'ui Au'sia, is a sharing of the talanoa of my life experiences. To encourage and motivate talanoa about primary issues of importance within the Pasifika community related to suicide, work and labour is my goal. Talanoa ‘o e Mo’ui A’usia is similar to a Kava session or a family gathering where we share our stories of our experiences of life to comfort one another. In other words, this is a sharing encouragement and singing of joyful songs to keep life in a positive space.
I am a proud Pasifika artist interested in the craft of Ngatu and using my practice as a platform to encourage young artists, students and others. My work focuses on the concepts of Talanoa and Mo'ui A'usia. Talanoa ‘o e Mo’ui A’usia stands for conversation about life experience. Since I was a kid in Tonga, I have enjoyed surrounding myself with my culture and craft making. Being brought up by my grandparents has taught me traditional ways of artmaking learned in my culture. As an artist, culture is an important concept in my artwork, it allows me to bring in traditional methods and mix them with modern concepts learned during my studies. Tui Emma Gillies’ exploration of the concepts of Ngatu as a way to reflect cultures and reconnect with traditional art has inspired me. Gillies returns to New Zealand to collaborate with her mother to complete a Tapa work using paint. She combines traditional patterns, methods, processes with modern dyes and new ways of painting. Tui Emma Gillies and many other artists have inspired me to use art as a practice to share with younger generations.
Talanoa and Mo'ui 'Ausia tells a story about the lives of Pasifika people, a sharing of personal life experiences and journeys. Talanoa’ is meaningful and powerful to many Pasifika people as a way of forming connections with one another. Mo’ui ‘Ausia elaborates on life experiences and their impacts, lifestyle, identity and surroundings. My intent is to look at issues that relate to the Pasifika community such as suicide, work and labour within the context of material artforms such as ngatu that represents my family and my beliefs.
The Talanoa on work labour, from personal experience labor work has always been difficult not just me but Pasifika people. By this, I want to inspire our young generation to uplift themself to success. John Vea is an artist who has influenced my practice. His work related to his personal experience was displayed at an exhibition in Te Tuhi Gallery titled “You kids should only experience this for a moment — don’t be here for life like me”. In this work he drew on his own life experience to demonstrate his struggles growing up. Vea created this installation to encourage the young generation to aim high and find a better path towards their future.
Talanoa ‘o e Mo’ui A’usia encompasses a Talanoa about my experience of suicide. As New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rankings in the world, I want to encourage our Pasifika people that there is always support no matter the situation. Raymond Sagapolutele is a prime example of Talanoa through the Mo’ui A’usia of suicide. Sagapolutele based his artwork, Mea Alofa on his own experience. He attempted to take his own life but was lucky enough to be saved by his brother. His work is a reminder and inspiring story for someone who may be experiencing similar doubts.
In addition, Talanoa ‘o e Mo’ui A’usia conveys the idea of the experiences of not only the Pasifika people but all cultures. I want to showcase my artwork as a message to all people to be inspired by the Talanoa of my experiences.
A most important Talanoa to all Pasifika people is family. We share our 'Ofa (love), Mafana (warmth), Malie (humor), and Faka'apa'apa (respect) through our actions and talent. My grandparents and parents have been the greatest motivators and mentors to me and my art. My Dad’s back and forth fight with cancer plays a big part in my artwork. His Mo’ui A’usia as a warrior encourages, inspires and drives me to Talanoa through my practice and never give up.