Vunilagi Vou was established in 2019 as a new venture dedicated to exploring the potential of contemporary Pacific art, artists and audiences through curatorial projects, community engagement and creative events.
As a professional curator and Pacific arts consultant, Ema Tavola had spent over 15 years working predominantly in South Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand in the fields of community arts development, arts funding and investment strategy, events, public programming and gallery management.
Vunilagi in Fijian language commonly refers to the horizon, but can be broken down as vu- meaning trunk, as in the trunk of a tree, and -lagi being the abbreviated version of lomalagi, meaning heaven. Ni serves to connect the two, so vunilagi is that which holds up the heavens. Vou means new.
For Ema, the vunilagi is a space of infinite potential, a space of dreaming and transformation; it is a connection between the known and the unknown, the tangible and intangible. As the vision for a new professional platform to work from, Vunilagi Vou reflects the potential of contemporary Pacific art and approaches to connect communities, enabling histories, social narratives and relationships to be revealed and renewed.
Vunilagi Vou was originally located in a suite of three interconnected shops in Ōtāhuhu housing a gallery, retail and consultancy space. For the first nine months before the global pandemic, Vunilagi Vou’s exhibition programme ran on a monthly cycle with a constantly evolving retail range of accessibly priced creative production by local artists.
Vunilagi Vou’s first publication, VV:Dua tells the story of how Vunilagi Vou transitioned from a pre-pandemic site and mode to Vunilagi Vou 2.0, a revised operations model located in suburban Papatoetoe. The pandemic bought about multiple challenges and whilst exhibitions and events continued to be produced throughout 2020 and into 2021, the focus for 2022 will be to pull away from public-facing programming and focus on consultancy work, publishing projects and populating the Vunilagi Vou Online Shop.
Vunilagi Vou is a shapeshifter. Keep up to date with developments here.