On Saturday 27 August2022, Vunilagi Vou’s newest site – VVxET – opens in East Tāmaki, South Auckland!
Instead of a traditional night time opening, VVxET will launch with an Open Day inviting the public to check out the new site, including the gorgeous stockroom and retail area, exhibition space and north-facing verandah!
Tucked away at the back of the Botany South Business Estate at 15 Bishop Lenihan Place, East Tāmaki, the new Vunilagi Vou premises has a pretty fascinating whakapapa of art dealing and appreciation. Built in 2004, the owner of the building established the ground floor as a small art dealership called I Like Gallery. Run on an appointment-only basis, gallerist Richard Jeffery ONZM, designed a perfectly formed exhibition space with high spec lighting and clean sight lines. It was immediately obvious how good parties would have been in this space!
Of all the commercial leases in all of Manukau / South Auckland, it seems somewhat divinely guided that Vunilagi Vou has ended up here, in a ready-made gallery, on the edge of the Ōtara Stream just 3 kilometres away from Fresh Gallery Ōtara, where it all began 16 years ago!
To launch the new exhibition space and ease back into exhibition-making after a 12 month hiatus, a collection of work has been assembled to represent Vunilagi Vou’s Moana Pacific arts community and two decades of professional practice and loving investment into Manukau / South Auckland art history.
The exhibition features recent and archival works by Nigel Borell, Ercan Cairns, Chris van Doren, Dr Sione Faletau, Antonio Filipo, Tanu Gago, Leilani Kake and Niutuiatua Lemalu.
The Vunilagi Vou stockroom is also full with works by Cypris Afakasi, David Garcia, Julia Mage’au Gray, Marcus Hipa, Rebecca Ann Hobbs & Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho, Sara Moana, Siliga David Setoga, Pati Solomona Tyrell, Manuha’apai Vaeatangitau and more!
The children’s book, The Legend of Tanovo and Tautaumolauby Kaliopate Tavola and Ema Tavola, in both English and Fijian, is now back in stock, alongside an eclectic collection of accessories, publications, patches and posters!
After this weekend’s Open Day, VVxET will be open Thursday to Saturday from 10am – 2pm, and by appointment.
VVxET Open Day is open to the public this Saturday 27 August from 10am until 6pm – all welcome!
As Vunilagi Vou transitions to a new shape and form, every dollar that supports the costs of shifting the location of the Gallery from Ōtāhuhu to Papatoetoe in order to re-open in October, is highly appreciated! Whilst we will be downsizing the retail offerings in the new site, we still have artwork in the storeroom available for purchase.
Our December 2019 exhibition, Finding Emory: A Poster Show, invited eight local artists to develop a new work inspired by the iconic aesthetic of Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. From the controversial trial of armed Police response units in South Auckland to the ongoing indoctrination of imposed body / faith politics, these seven artworks speak directly to shifts and changes that affected the lives of indigenous people in the South Pacific / Moana Oceania in 2019.
The artworks by Cypris Afakasi, Tanu Gago, Leilani Kake, Sean Kerrigan, Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho & Rebecca Ann Hobbs, Siliga David Setoga and Tokerau Wilson were produced as editions of 10, measuring 42×59.4cm (A2 size) and printed on DuraPrint, a robust plastic-coated paper. Posters are signed, unframed and priced at NZ$200 each + $15 postage and handling within New Zealand.
For more information on artworks and artists, please send us an enquiry here:
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 eight 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, 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, Siliga David Setoga 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, Siliga David Setoga and Tokerau Wilson. Opening 6-8pm, Tuesday 3 December Exhibition Dates 4 December 2019 – 25 January 2020
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, Reclamationwhich 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:
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.
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:2was 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!
Melissa Cole and Rudi Robinson
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.
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!
Grassroots by Nicole Lim
Artist Nicole Lim, photo by Iokapeta Magele-Suamasi
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!
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 aparticular 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.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Ema Tavola // firstname.lastname@example.org // 0275 779 369
Notes to editors
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
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 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.
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