Fofola Koloa – Unfolding my Koloa // A solo exhibition by Vea Mafile’o

Vunilagi Vou is re-opening on 10 October, 2020 with a solo exhibition by South Auckland-based filmmaker and visual artist, Vea Mafile’o. Fofola Koloa – Unfolding my Koloa is a new body of experimental works produced with support from Creative New Zealand’s Arts Continuity Grant programme, an initiative established in response to the global pandemic and pause in production for the creative community.

Vea’s practice as a filmmaker and screen industry professional started in the Visual Arts with an undergraduate degree in Sculpture from Manukau School of Visual Arts (MSVA). Minoring in Moving Image, Vea honed her practice in video installation, leading her to work in art direction and camera operation for television after graduating, and later directing and producing, working extensively on content for TVNZ shows Fresh, Tagata Pasifika and for the web portal TheCoconet.tv. Her production company, Malosi Pictures, run with partner and filmmaker, Jeremiah Tauamiti, was established in 2015 and last year, their first feature-length documentary, For My Father’s Kingdom was premiered at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival.

Having established a practice of video documentation during her undergraduate studies, Vea’s archive of collected footage now spans 17 years. The COVID-19 global pandemic offered an opportunity to step back from the hyper productivity of Malosi Pictures’ normal hustle, creating time to think and reflect, focus and play.

Fofola Koloa – Unfolding my Koloa is a continuation from Vea’s 2018 solo exhibition, Digital Launima at ST PAUL St Gallery, where archival footage presented as the patterned grids of ngatu launima (decorated barkcloth) formed an impressive three-channel video projection over the full length of the gallery space. Of that body of work, Vea commented,

As a young Tongan woman I am expected to have koloa faka-Tonga, to make them or gather them by buying them. Koloa faka-Tonga are fine mats, woven mats, Ta’ovala (mats worn round the waist), kie kie (worn by women round the waist), baskets and different sized tapa cloths. Koloa faka-Tonga is something I don’t have the skills to make properly. I could learn but I have realised my strengths are in gathering moving images. This is my digital koloa, my contribution to my family’s koloa… Being hafikasi and living in New Zealand means we have to make new ways to keep our koloa and koloa faka-Tonga alive and adapt it to how we live in the world today.

Two years on, and with even more footage digitised with help from the Creative New Zealand Arts Continuity Grant programme, Fofola Koloa – Unfolding my Koloa is not only a further refined analysis of personal archives and journeys between Tonga and Aotearoa New Zealand, but produced at a time of global resetting and reflecting on the ways our pre-pandemic modes were shaping us and the environments we inhabit. This experimental body of work is an ‘airing out’ of Vea’s digital koloa, an opportunity to recalibrate and re-contextualise its value and meaning.

For Vea, the site of Vunilagi Vou 2.0 is also familiar territory. As undergraduate students at MSVA, this garage was a place of meeting, making and sharing, thinking and planning. With the recent closure of Manukau Institute of Technology’s creative arts programme, the era of MSVA and its special context for making art here in Manukau / South Auckland, has inspired important reflections on the unique trajectories of establishing a creative practice here.

For Vunilagi Vou, this first exhibition in the new site is an opportunity to re-think the contexts and terms of engagement for the presentation of contemporary Pacific art. The space is no longer bound by the capitalism of a commercial setting, and the home and suburban context for presenting Pacific art is new terrain being negotiated with care and attention.

Fofola Koloa – Unfolding my Koloa runs from 10 October – 21 November 2020. Viewing by appointment only.

Learn more about Vea Mafile’o, her production company Malosi Pictures and their first feature film, For My Father’s Kingdom (2019) here:


Image credit: Detail, Vea in the backyard (2003) by Emily Mafile’o

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