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.

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!

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