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April 1, 2022 @ 6:00 pm May 4, 2022 @ 4:00 pm

1 April – 4 May 2022
Street Front Gallery

Across Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, the Great Ocean of Kiwa or Pacific Ocean*, intergenerational knowledge-sharing is central to the art forms sustained and activated by women. Matrilineal is an opening for artists who inhabit spaces created by their female ancestors, whether through the inheritance of weaving techniques and visual histories, the collective practice of making ngatu (Tongan tapa cloth), or expressions of feminine empowerment. Featuring taonga made across a variety of media, each artform in this space embodies narratives which span ancient and immediate links to the women of previous generations.

*Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan named these waters the Pacific Ocean in 1520.

About the Artists:

‘Uhila Kanongata‘a Nai, a Tongan New Zealand-born artist who emigrated to Tonga with my Nena (Grandmother), ‘Ana Va’inga Pautā, in 1999. I lived there until the end of 2011, when I immigrated back to New Zealand. I was 13. I grew up watching my Nena making Tongan traditional arts and crafts, especially the crafts of ngatu and kupesi making in the small village of Pelehake on the East-Side of Tonga. The traditional practices of ngatu and kupesi are the central focus of my artistic research, which forms a personal path of knowledge as I learn more about their history. My practice seeks a way to generate a new space that has the potential to allow the work to speak on its own terms without having to fit within a contemporary Western art framework. 

Nai is currently enrolled in the PhD programme of the School of Art and Design, Auckland University of Technology. She has been awarded the BC Collective Indigenous award; Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki Award for high achievement; AUT Research Masters Scholarship; Vā Moana Pacific Spatial Postgraduate. Recent exhibitions: Liuaki, ST PAUL St Gallery (2022); The Private Letter Becomes Public: The 1620 Collection at Window Gallery (2021); Artspace Aotearoa, Slow Boil; Tokānga: Tala Tukufakaholo ‘o e ngōue‘anga (2021) (group); The Heart Athletes at Demo (2020); And Then What? Tautai Tertiary Exhibition at St Paul St Gallery, AUT (2018).

Salle Tamatoa is a practising artist whose work utilises weaving, carving and performance.  He is continuously referencing the importance of Niuean cultural knowledge systems through stories, art making and iconography. Tamatoa completed his Masters of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design. Tamatoa began weaving nine years ago, under the guidance of his grandmother. There’s a reciprocity between Tamatoa and Funaki, each creating to give the other energy and life.

Experimenting with fibres and timber, he found his hands had both the sensitivity for weaving and the strength for carving. In 2019 he started creating new works – a combination of both, moving the forms taught to him by Funaki into completely new territory.  In his works, the use of wire rather than coconut rib shapes the weaving and gives him the freedom to move away from strict and uniform structures to create more fluid shapes.  

Words courtesy of Objectspace.

Tunaga Funaki first came to Aotearoa New Zealand to study when she was 13-years-old.  After completing high school, she travelled between Aotearoa and Niue as part of her clerical job with the Niuean government.  She settled in Aotearoa in 1982 and continued public service until her recent retirement.  Funaki enjoys sharing her love of weaving, crochet, sewing and knitting with younger generations of the Nieuan community in Aotearoa.

Growing up in Tuapa, Niue, weaving was a part of daily life for Funaki.  She mastered basic weaving techniques by the time she was at school, starting first with lapa lili (table mats) before moving onto kato (baskets).  When she left for Aotearoa New Zealand, weaving was a way to connect to life back home, for kinship and to create items to give as gifts of respect and gratitude to others.

As with other Niuean weavers, the materials she incorporates into her weaving have changed since leaving Niue. The works in this exhibition use fā leaves (pandanus), raffia and recycled materials. The use of recycled materials comes from necessity (as pandanus is harvested offshore and imported to Aotearoa New Zealand) but are meticulously processed with the same attention she would give fā leaves back home.

Words courtesy of Objectspace.

Jalaina Hitchen (she/her) is a designer who combines unconventional mediums and traditional craft from her heritage. Coming from a fashion design background she spent majority of her bachelor’s degree experimenting with different concepts and materials. When completing her graduate collection in lockdown in 2021, she had settled on utilising domestic products to bring the stories of her cultural matriarchs to life. Naming the collection “Mothers of Mine.”  Paying tribute to the mothers who came before the designer, who worked through the challenges of poverty, of the working class, to then give future generations the opportunities that are now available to her. Her work has remained centred around storytelling that has always had a personal connection to the designer. She has previously shown work in galleries across Tāmaki Makaurau including Auckland Art Gallery, After Hours Studio and Māngere Art Centre.

Loleni Antonio Selesele’s work is a vivid exploration of beautiful yet unusual creations, using subjects that allow him to satisfy his original style with traditional Samoan tatau (tattoo); and within that somehow communicate that elusive sense of fusion. The process is more visceral than intellectual; he is generally not too concerned with creating based on reason or thought, but more on feel and emotion throughout the development of his works.

Everything she creates starts self-taught, the journey ahead grows with learning.

Tui Emma Gillies is a kiwi Tongan artist currently based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland who specialises in tapa cloth. Her work mixes contemporary with traditional and can be challenging, confronting and controversial, but always with respect to the roots of the medium and the ancestors who practised it before her. Tui’s work can be found in significant museum and gallery collections around the globe including, USA, Germany, Melbourne, Auckland, and also in many private collections. In 2018 she received the Creative New Zealand Pacific Heritage Art Award and also helped revive hiapo growing and the art of bark cloth making alongside her mother in Falevai, Vava’u where it had vanished decades earlier.

Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows is a generous Master creator of Tongan Heritage Arts who learnt many artistic skills from her mother, Ema Topeni. Ema taught her that what she makes must be to a high quality standard. Sulieti grew up in Falevai, Vava’u, Tonga before migrating to New Zealand in 1978 to live with her husband in South Auckland till his death in 2013. Sulieti has worked on many successful artistic projects including making Kahoa Heilala necklaces which were acquired by Otago Museum and Auckland Museum. Sulieti also works as a mother-daughter tapa team with her daughter, Tui Emma Gillies and has Ngatu and Kupesi works in collections around the world including, The National Maritime Museum, GRASSI museum in Germany, National Gallery of Victory in Melbourne and Pick Museum of Anthropology in Illinois, USA. Sulieti received the Pasifika Heritage Art Award in 2018 alongside her daughter. Sulieti was made an MNZM in the New Zealand 2020 New Year’s honours for her services to Tongan art and education.

Aroha Gillies is 8 years old, attending St Annes Primary School in Manurewa. Loves art and mixing new colours.

28 Clarence Street, Devonport
Auckland, 0624 New Zealand
09-963 2331
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