A postponed programme + the realities of being a one-woman gallery

Today, we were scheduled to open South Auckland-based Sāmoan painter, Niu Lemalu’s solo exhibition, Let’s Play Outside. The exhibition project, that has been supported with last year’s BoostedxMoana crowdfunding effort, has been a joy to curate. Niu started making a new body of work at the end of last year and has been working solidly since then. He showed two new paintings in Vunilagi Vou’s Aotearoa Art Fair booth, which offered us excellent insights to where his work sits in the wider contemporary art landscape.

Niu Lemalu and Genevieve Pini’s solo shows were programmed to run back-to-back with my own solo, Backbone, opening up Vunilagi Vou’s ‘season of solos’ in April.

Whilst Backbone was opened and closed without disruption, and a really lovely way to break in the gallery for 2023, I found out that I’m needing to have a fairly major surgery in July, so our ‘season of solos’ programme has hit a small obstacle and is being pushed out by two months.

Such is life for a one-woman operation; there are no staffing back-ups for Vunilagi Vou, so major gratitude to Niu and Genevieve for rolling with the punches. Gratitude also to everyone who has offered support, kindness and advice as we navigate these unknown waters.

Our new dates are now confirmed, and opening Niu’s solo, Let’s Play Outside will now feel like even more of a milestone!

Genevieve Pini’s new exhibition dates are also confirmed as 26 October – 10 December 2023 – her first ever solo, Muscle Memory will be a beautiful exhibition project to round out a big year!

The VV First Fridays event series will also be on hold for August. But July’s event is going to be a goody! Inspired by recent political rhetoric amongst New Zealand’s right-wing parties denouncing the existence of systemic racism and White Privilege in New Zealand health system, we are turning political rage (slash disbelief) into beautiful expressions of visual resistance.

Inspired by the Reap What You Sew (2017) project by US artist, Stephanie Syjuco and her excellent free resource, “Making Protest Banners: Tips + Tricks”, Vunilagi Vou is excited to hold space for some experimentation, talanoa and inspiration.

Materials + snacks provided, and assistance from excellent Tongan designer and textile artist, Czarina Wilson.

Registration is open to Moana artists and communities, and those from our creative and cultural ecologies: click here to secure a spot.

I’m excited to be speaking next week at the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Arts Educators conference in Wellington. Perhaps especially meaningful because the venue for my presentation is Wellington High School, where I had powerful and transformative experiences as a student who only really enjoyed going to art classes. I’ll be discussing some of the wider philosophies of Vunilagi Vou in a paper entitled, Holding Space for Decolonisation in South Auckland.

Vunilagi Vou sits on the edge of this pocket of environmentally protected wetlands in East Tāmaki, South Auckland.

Whilst it’s wind-down time in preparation for surgery, I’m focused on the other side of recovery and look forward to sharing space with folx in late August and onwards.