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Finding Emory – A Poster Show

By chance, seven signed Emory Douglas prints found their way to Vunilagi Vou last month and inspired our last exhibition for 2019!

Emory Douglas’ iconic aesthetic and important contribution to the art of revolution has been a starting point for seven Auckland-based artists who have been invited to create a poster about an issue that has moved their heads and hearts in 2019. From arming South Auckland’s Police, to re-criminalising homosexuality in the Cook Islands, these seven new works speak directly to the shifts and changes that affect the lives of indigenous people in the South Pacific / Moana Oceania.

The limited edition poster prints will be for sale and hung alongside Emory’s work in an exhibition that packs a powerful political punch.

Finding Emory – A Poster Show features new work by Cypris Afakasi, Tanu Gago, Leilani Kake, Sean Kerrigan, Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho & Rebecca Hobbs and Tokerau Wilson.

Vunilagi Vou’s latest poster (above) designed by Director – Curator, Ema Tavola, is also for sale along with new stock from the Marshall Islands, Eastern Highlands in Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Finding Emory – A Poster Show

Featuring Cypris Afakasi, Tanu Gago, Leilani Kake, Sean Kerrigan, Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho & Rebecca Hobbs and Tokerau Wilson.
Opening 6-8pm, Tuesday 3 December
Exhibition Dates 4 December 2019 – 25 January 2020


Enquiries

October was a whirlwind!

Aroha mai – updates have been sluggish this past month because our programme has been wild! 

Vunilagi Vou hosted a beautiful mini survey show of Auckland-based collective, FAFSWAG in October. The exhibition featured a series of video works alongside artist proofs and limited edition digital prints made by members past and present. With many of FAFSWAG’s artists connected to and resident in the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu area, it was great to reflect on the important contribution FAFSWAG has made to the New Zealand art world (and beyond) and celebrate their South Auckland roots.

FAFSWAG 6 opened on October 1, in the middle of the collective’s production, Reclamation which went on to deliver an impressive 13-show season at Auckland’s Basement Theatre.

FAFSWAG 6 was produced with support from Māngere Ōtāhuhu Arts, an initiative to manage investment in the creative ecology of the area by Māngere Ōtāhuhu Local Board of Auckland Council.

Māngere Ōtāhuhu Arts funding has also enabled the creation of the Vunilagi Vou Studio, a workshop and gathering space located in the adjacent shop from the Gallery. Vunilagi Vou Studio is programmed to host workshops from October 2019 to March 2020. The first official gathering in the space was delivered in mid-October: Te Reo Toi Toko is a monthly opportunity for te reo Māori speakers and learners to use exhibitions to start conversations and broaden vocabulary. The workshop series was initiated by local artist, Leilani Kake, who has been studying te reo Māori full-time this year and discovered a need for language learners to practice and build supportive relationships with other language speakers and learners in the local community.

October also saw a new event series launched: Vunilagi Vou Arcade Talks. Our first event was held on October 7 with visiting London-based, Fijian-New Zealand visual artist, Luke Willis Thompson.

The event was an opportunity to hear Luke Willis Thompson discuss some of the issues that have surrounded his art practice recently, particular in light of his work nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize (2018). For those in attendance, Luke offered a rare first-hand account of his contexts and drivers, his connections and challenges.

For the night of the first Vunilagi Vou Arcade Talk, we screened Luke’s work in the window of our neighbouring business, Pasifika Barbers, a Fiji-owned business that has been in Ōtāhuhu for 25 years. The promotional graphics for this event were created by artist, Nicole Lim.

Vunilagi Vou Director-Curator, Ema Tavola delivered two international talks in October; first at the 2019 Para Site International Conference in Hong Kong, and second as part of the Tarnanthi Festival in Adelaide, South Australia, hosted by ACE Open and Guildhouse. The talks took place on two consecutive weekends, on two continents, and involved seven flights in 14 days! Read a great overview of the Para Site Conference here.

Ema was also invited to speak on a panel discussion at Auckland Art Gallery for Art After Hours inspired by the exhibition, “Guerilla Girls Re-inventing the ‘F’ Word – Feminism!” and later had the opportunity to introduce visiting Guerilla Girl, ‘Frida Kahlo’ to Vunilagi Vou, Ōtāhuhu and FAFSWAG. Plans and ideas for future collaborations were excitedly spoken to life!

On the last weekend of October, we hosted the final Southside Talanoa Series event at Ōtāhuhu’s iconic Star Hotel. The Southside Quiz Night centralised South Auckland and Pacific knowledge systems and flipped the script on traditional New Zealand quiz nights! The Southside Talanoa Series was supported by Auckland Council as part of the Pacific Arts programme.

Podcasts of the Southside Talanoa Series events were produced by Matthew Salapu (Anonymouz) and can be found here.

To close the FAFSWAG 6 exhibition, we hosted our first official Crit Club in the Vunilagi Vou Studio. Crit Club was developed to create space for local artists to engage in critical feedback about their work, to hone their practices and speak about their thinking.

In October’s Crit Club, Leilani Kake presented her latest work, Toka Te Reo, opening the floor for discussion. Whilst the intention was to move over to the Gallery to discuss the FAFSWAG 6 exhibition, the MMT (Mate Ma’a Tonga, the national rugby league team of Tonga) celebrations were so joyous and LOUD, we were drowned out! Crit Club is such a brave space; many thanks to those who came out to participate.

November is another month full of workshops at Vunilagi Vou – the best way to keep in up to date on exhibitions, events and talks is via Facebook and Instagram, but for those who live that Social Media Free life, we promise we’ll get our e-mail newsletter started soon!

We also adjusted our Gallery opening hours in October and are now open:

Wednesday – Thursday: 10am – 5pm
Friday: 10am – 6pm
Saturday: 11am – 4pm
Closed: Sunday / Monday / Tuesday

We’re grateful for all the support that has helped us get through a mega month of programming; to family, friends, gallery-goers, social media networks and funders – vinaka vakalevu – thank you so much!


Vunilagi Vou event photography is by Andre Kake-Joseph.

Lain Blo Yu Mi – Our People Our Lines for #ArtsMonthNZ

Our fourth exhibition at Vunilagi Vou is an image rich homage to the work of Auckland-based Papua New Guinean / Australian mark maker (tattoo practitioner), Julia Mage’au Gray.

 

Lain Blo Yu Mi – Our People Our Lines (3-28 September) incorporates 119 photographs demonstrating the visual vocabulary Julia works with and the inspiration she draws from Mekeo, Central Province, Papua New Guinea. Her last six months of Instagram posts have been bought to life with hand-written captions, giving voice to the shared moments between Julia and those she has marked, her position on appropriation and assertion of the meaning of Melanesian marks as a mechanism for connecting people with their past, and with themselves.

The exhibition also features two personal narratives of Melanesian women, Emmaline Matagi (Fiji) and Michaelyn Pokarop (Papua New Guinea). Their stories utilise the mode of early ethnological journals that documented societies in Oceania from the perspective of early colonial arrivals, but instead centralise their lives and experience as Melanesian women in diaspora getting marked.

Image courtesy of Emmaline Matagi

Emmaline Matagi’s daughter, Rae-Dawn (aged 9), who was with her mum when she was marked, has contributed insights and illustrations to Emmaline’s story, making her the youngest exhibitor at Vunilagi Vou so far!

Michaelyn Pokarop’s enia (Papua New Guinean fibre skirt) is shown as part of her story, alongside three beautiful written insights to the experience of discovering her family’s tattoo history, and the process of wearing the marks herself.

The exhibition opened on Tuesday 3 September with a performance from Julia’s Nesian Dance class – another beautiful first for Vunilagi Vou – this arcade was made for dancing!

Lain Blo Yu Mi – Our People Our Lines is part of The Arts Foundation‘s new #ArtsMonthNZ initiative, celebrating the work of 120 organisations, with a deep dive into 20 organisations throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, and Vunilagi Vou is one of them. As part of this, we’re inviting our audiences to ponder the question, what is art? and loving the responses!

Lain Blo Yu Mi – Our People Our Lines is on from 3-28 September with a special hand tap tattoo demonstration on Saturday 28 September from 4-6pm, the same day as the Ōtāhuhu Food Festival (10am-4pm).

Vinaka vakalevu to the Melanesian Marks family for allowing us to put Melanesia front and centre this September!

Dissecting Diversity in the Southside

We held the first of the Southside Talanoa Series events last month in Ōtāhuhu, a series of events Vunilagi Vou is producing with support from Auckland Council as part of the Pacific Arts Programme.

The panellists were facilitated by Yolande Ah Chong in a discussion around the complexities of working in the ‘diversity space’, sharing insights from both within and outside of the arts and cultural industries.

The open forum enabled audiences to pose questions, make commentary and further dissect the idea of diversity from functional, philosophical and realistic angles. The full talanoa has been recorded by noted South Auckland-based sound artist and producer, Faiumu Matthew Salapu aka Anonymouz; the podcast will be available in the coming weeks.

The panel sat on mats and ngatu kindly lent from local artists Leilani Kake, Vea Mafile’o and Czarina Wilson, beneath a crocheted artwork produced for the Crochet You Stay project by Lissy Cole in collaboration with Leilani Kake with funding from the Creative New Zealand Suffrage 125 fund.

The event was a success and we are hugely grateful to this excellent panel. We were particularly excited to have Guled Mire in this space; he added tremendous value and helped us broker new territory for Pacific arts discourse in Aotearoa. Vinaka vakalevu!

The Southside Talanoa Series rolls out another event this month, For My Father’s Kingdom: For The Community, a free public screening of the new documentary film, For My Father’s Kingdom directed by Papatoetoe-based filmmakers, Vea Mafile’o and Jeremiah Tauamiti, followed by a panel discussion with Siniva Vaitohi (SAY Money Transfer) and Sarah McRobie (counselling specialist) in conversation with Vea Mafile’o.

This event is family friendly and open to the public; doors open at 3.30pm on Saturday 21 September at the Ōtāhuhu Leopards Rugby League Clubrooms in Bert Henham Park, 645 Great South Road, Ōtāhuhu.

For more information about the Southside Talanoa Series, get in touch here:

 

Launching Southside Talanoa Series

We’re excited to be to launching a new event programme, the Southside Talanoa Series, produced with support from Auckland Council as part of the Pacific Arts programme.

The events have been designed to engage local communities, whilst bringing in wider creative and cultural industries audiences to South Auckland spaces to broaden understanding of key issues that affect Pacific visual culture.

The series consists of three events:

  • Dissecting Diversity – a panel discussion featuring five perspectives on working in and around the diversity space, featuring Nigel Borell, Kolokesa Uafā Māhina-Tuai and Barbara Makuati-Afitu (Lagimaama Consultancy), Guled Mire and Seuta’afili Dr Patrick Thomsen, 4-6pm, Saturday 24 August at Ōtāhuhu Youth Space, 12-16 High Street, Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland
  • For My Father’s Kingdom: For The Community – a film screening of For My Father’s Kingdom (Dir. Vea Mafile’o and Jeremiah Tauamiti, Malosi Pictures) and panel discussion with Vea Mafile’o, Sarah McRobie and Siniva Vaitohi (SAY Money Transfer), 4-8pm, Saturday 21 September at Ōtāhuhu Rovers Rugby League Clubrooms, 645 Mount Wellington Highway, Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland
  • Southside Quiz Night – a quiz night centralising Pacific and South Auckland urban knowledge sets with Quiz Master Yolande Ah Chong, 4-7pm, Saturday 26 October at Star Hotel, 392 Great South Road, Ōtāhuhu, South Auckland

The Southside Talanoa Series events are free and open to the public. The first two events are family friendly and have ample free car parking. The third event venue is R18 and car parking is available across the road on the corner of Atkinson Avenue and High Street.

The series is a partnership with South Auckland-based sound artist and producer, Faiumu Matthew Salapu aka Anonymouz, who is producing a podcast / sound record of each event, which will be available here. Event speakers are also sharing a list of further reading and inspiring content, which will be available on the Southside Talanoa Series website.

Our event branding has been carefully hand-drawn by Auckland-based illustrator / graphic designer, Nicole Lim.

Enquiries

Sales, patches, talks and koha

After six weeks of business, we have opened our second exhibition, Putiputi and celebrated the successes of our inaugural exhibition, WWJD:2. Congratulations to Julia Mage’au Gray, Vea Mafile’o, Sinia Malua and Daniel Weetman, whose work was purchased and has gone to South Auckland-based private and public collections!

We are grateful for the coverage that Vunilagi Vou has attracted in the mainstream and Pacific media networks, check out some reviews, stories and interviews out here:

In our first six weeks, Ema hosted a number of floor talks for secondary and tertiary students, discussing the works in the exhibition and the wider kaupapa of the space. Students from Ambury Park Centre in Māngere were transfixed listening to local artist, Melissa Cole discussing her collaborative work, Mind That Māori made with her husband, Rudi Robinson.

Customised floor talks can be booked for any of our exhibitions during normal business hours and school visits require a minimum of two weeks notice. Get in touch with Ema to discuss opportunities.

Our Vunilagi Vou patches have been out and about! Pacific artists on the road have shared photos from Hollywood to Guangzhou – thank you Vea Mafile’o and Jeremiah Tauamiti (Malosi Pictures), Czarina Wilson and Team FAFSWAG for taking a little piece of Vunilagi Vou on tour with you! New patches are now on sale along with small prints of Ema Tavola’s Legends series, the first work of which is dedicated to Sāmoan artist, Tanu Gago.

The gallery has been attracting a steady stream of visitors from all walks of life; we are grateful for the patronage and the support, and thankful for the excellent donations of functional things like plinths, and offers of installation skills – much appreciated! Koha and financial donations are also wonderful; we are not a publicly funded gallery so donations help us to deliver excellent exhibitions, exhibiting opportunities and creative inspiration across our broad and diverse audience base.

Thank you to the excellent team who have supported Ema in keeping the doors open as much as possible – to Melissa, Czarina and Leilani – your support is so very much appreciated. In June, Ema spoke at the Singapore Art Book Fair upon invitation from NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore on a panel on critical writing alongside H.G Masters (Deputy Editor and Deputy Publisher, ArtAsiaPacific) and Carlos Quijon Jr (Writer, Curator), expertly facilitated by Qinyi Lim, Curator, National Gallery Singapore. It was a privilege to speak a Pacific perspective into this space, and represent Vunilagi Vou internationally for the first time. The Singapore Art Book Fair itself was also hugely inspiring and watch this space for some exciting publishing projects in the pipeline!

The Vunilagi Vou Engine Room has been a busy too, hosting meetings and planning sessions, securing shows, sponsors and support, strategically building a robust programme of exhibitions, events and activations that almost entirely fill our first year of programming. This month, we trialled Vunilagi Vou Crit Club, a monthly gathering for creatives to generate critique of their work and projects in a culturally safe and supportive environment – Crit Club will become a regular feature of Vunilagi Vou’s programme from next month onwards!

Our next exhibition Fofonga ‘oe kau fakafoki – The faces of those who have returned is the first solo show of Auckland-based photographer, Todd Henry. This beautiful show opens on Tuesday 6 August from 6-8pm – all welcome!

Keep up to date with Vunilagi Vou updates on Instagram and Facebook

Open for business in Ōtāhuhu!

 

Vunilagi Vou formally opened on Friday 31 May 2019, a stormy night in South Auckland! Through driving rain and a hail storm, a beautiful mob of Pacific arts supporters came out to celebrate South Auckland’s newest little art space.

A huge thank you to those who supported with wine and food, thank you to Lissy Cole for the amazing catering, and Rudi Robinson for providing an excellent bar man service! Thank you to Vaimaila Urale for a generous koha of bubbles, and Nicole Lim for the cake!

The combined energies of everyone who came out to support and celebrate our launch were hugely uplifting and will undoubtedly set us on a good course, serving and growing the Vunilagi Vou community.

Our inaugural exhibition, WWJD:2 was well received – thank you to all the artists who helped launch Vunilagi Vou’s dynamic and fast turnover exhibition programme; we’ll be opening a new exhibition on the first Tuesday of every month!

Of the 15 works on display, most are for sale in line with Vunilagi Vou’s intention to make contemporary Pacific art accessible to new collectors. Notably, two beautiful paintings by Andy Leleisi’uao, one our sector’s most productive and successful practitioners, still based here in Māngere, South Auckland.

Cryptid Arytipidal (2013)
Acrylic on canvas, 457x910mm
Andy Leleisi’uao NZ1900

Andy Leleisi’uao has an outstanding survey show called Kamoan Mine on at Pah Homestead in Auckland’s Hillsborough until July 14. The exhibition is the artist’s most significant survey of more than 20 years of practice. It is such a privilege to have these two works, along with a series of print works in the Vunilagi Vou retail area, on show at the same time.

We opened the gallery with a fully stocked retail range including locally produced repurposed textile accessories and homeware by Lissy Cole Designs, hand-made organic coconut soaps by Mananuanua – the mother and daughter home-based small business of artist, Vaimaila Urale, a range of beautiful bilum bags from Papua New Guinea, small paintings by ‘Ahota’e’iloa Toetu’u, a custom range of earrings by Aolele Adornment and accessories and homeware by South Auckland-based mother and son small business, Kingdom Design Store driven by Tongan designer, Czarina Wilson.

Vunilagi Vou’s retail range is constantly evolving and also include a range of framed and unframed limited edition prints by Andy Leleisi’uao, Pati Solomona Tyrell and former Fresh Gallery Ōtara Gallery Coordinator and designer, Nicole Lim, who has contributed a very special edition (50) of her illustration work, Grassroots. The work speaks to both early Fresh Gallery Ōtara and Vunilagi Vou’s dedication to the power of engaging grassroots audiences, and enabling artists to be heard and seen. Thank you Nicole, it’s wonderful to be collaborating again!

ccs-logo-auckland-council

The launch of Vunilagi Vou was made possible with support from Creative Communities Scheme – vinaka vakalevu!

Vunilagi Vou is open Tuesday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm, Friday from 10am to 6pm and Saturday from 11am – 4pm. Find advice for getting to the space here.

Our next exhibition opens on Tuesday 2 July – watch this space for details, or follow Vunilagi Vou on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

vinaka vakalevu

A new contemporary Pacific art gallery opens in South Auckland on Queen’s Birthday Weekend

Media release: 21 May 2019

A new art gallery in Ōtāhuhu has contemporary Pacific art and audiences at its core. Vunilagi Vou, opening on Queen’s Birthday weekend, will show a new exhibition each month, sell art works and objects and provide a communal space for creatives to come together.

Gallery Director Ema Tavola (Fiji, Pākehā) says that a dedicated space for contemporary Pacific art, that recognises the importance of historical context and community connections, is much needed.

“Our exhibitions programme will highlight important social commentary on issues that affect our lives as Pacific people; expanding the idea and potential of what contemporary Pacific art is and can be.”

Ema says there is a particular focus for the gallery on local artists from the wider Ōtāhuhu and Māngere area and women artists. “We’ll be supporting emerging artists into their exhibition experiences as well as showing work by senior artists who exhibit in central Auckland and internationally.”

Making buying and collecting art more accessible is another important aim of the gallery. “We know there are plenty of people, particularly young professionals, who are interested in original art and supporting artists, and we want to empower and enable that.”

Vunilagi Vou’s opening exhibition, WWJD:2 is a vibrant snapshot of the breadth and depth of contemporary Pacific art, from a South Auckland perspective generally, and specifically Ema’s perspective. “This is my first local exhibition in a long time that speaks directly to my art ecology; the networks and energies that sustain me.”

WWJD:2 featured artists draw heritage from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Sāmoa and Tonga as well as New Zealand (Māori and Pākeha) and Australia.  They range from emerging to established, nodding to the intergenerational connections within Aotearoa’s contemporary Pacific art history. Works take diverse forms including textiles, photography, painting, film and paper.

The exhibition, which is supported by Creative NZ’s Creative Communities programme, is the second in the ‘What Would Jim Do’ series paying homage to the renowned late Cook Islands curator, Jim Vivieaere, who passed away on June 3, 2011.

ENDS

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Ema Tavola // hello@vunilagivou.com // 0275 779 369


Notes to editors

Vunilagi Vou

  • South Auckland’s new gallery centralising contemporary Pacific Art and audiences.
  • Where: 4/256 Great South Road, Ōtāhuhu (down arcade)
  • Opening hours: Opens to public Saturday 1 June, then open Tuesday – Thursday from 10am – 5pm, Friday 10am – 6pm, Saturday 11am – 4pm
  • Contact: Ema Tavola, email:  hello@vunilagivou.com, mobile: 027 5779369
  • 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 the abbreviated version of lomalagi, heaven. Ni serves to connect the two, so vunilagi is that which holds up the heavens. Vou means new.
  • Vunilagi Vou is also an umbrella for Tavola’s consultancy work, producing events and community engagement initiatives in the South Auckland area
  • Vunilagi Vou retail: As well as the works in most exhibitions, Vunilagi Vou will sell a small range of art objects by local creatives, including:
    • Tyla Vaeau Ta’ufo’ou – Prints
    • Lissy Cole Design – Textile works
    • Kingdom Design – Homeware and accessories
    • Aolele Adornment – Jewellery
    • Molly Pihigia – Jewellery

WWJD:2 Exhibiting Artists

  • Margaret Aull (Tuwharetoa / Te Rarawa, Fiji)
  • Melissa Cole (Ngati Hine, Ngati Kahu)
  • Tanu Gago (Sāmoa, NZ)
  • Julia Mage’au Gray (Papua New Guinea, Australia)
  • Leilani Kake (Ngapuhi / Tainui, Cook Islands)
  • Andy Leleisi’uao (Sāmoa, NZ)
  • Niutuiatua Lemalu (Sāmoa, NZ)
  • Sinia Malua (Tonga, NZ)
  • Vea Mafile’o (Tonga, NZ)
  • Molly Pihigia (Niue, NZ)
  • ‘Ahota’e’iloa Toetu’u (Tonga, NZ)
  • Vaimaila Urale (Sāmoa, NZ)
  • Daniel Weetman (Fiji, NZ)

About the Gallery Director

Gallery Director Ema Tavola, born in Suva, Fiji, and based in Papatoetoe, has spent almost 20 years working within the South Auckland creative sector as a curator, producer, researcher, teacher and artist.

Her curatorial practice is a mechanism for social inclusion, centralising Pacific ways of seeing, decolonisation and exhibition making as a form of activism. She was the founding curator of Fresh Gallery Ōtara and has produced close to 80 exhibitions foregrounding work by Pacific artists to be shown both locally and internationally, most recently including 2018’s ‘A Maternal Lens’, shown at the 4th International Biennial of Casablanca in Morocco.

Image credits

  • SAVAGE IN THE GARDEN series (2018) by Tanu Gago
  • Portrait of Vunilagi Vou Director, Ema Tavola / Photo by Pati Solomona Tyrell
  • Mate Ma’a Tonga flag by Czarina Wilson for Kingdom Design

Vunilagi Vou: A fresh start

Vunilagi Vou is 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 has spent 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.

Having worked from the platform of Pacific Island Management, Production + Ideas (PIMPI) since 2012, Vunilagi Vou is a fresh start, a new beginning.

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 is a concept originally developed in partnership with Fiji-based designer and consultant, Mereia Carling, whose professional background is in child rights, social policy and youth participation in the Pacific.