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Samoan artist trio awarded artist-in-residence.

25 Jul 2012

This content is tagged as Pacific arts .

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Pacific navigation, mythology and the ancient Samoan sport of pigeon hunting have inspired three New Zealand artists who will start an artist’s residency in Samoa next month.

Pacific navigation, mythology and the ancient Samoan sport of pigeon hunting have inspired three New Zealand artists who will start an artist’s residency in Samoa next month.

Vahine Collective, made up of New Zealand born Samoan artists Lonnie Hutchinson, Lily Laita and Niki Hastings-McFall, has been awarded the Creative New Zealand and the National University of Samoa Artist in Residence for 2012. From August, each artist will spend one month in Samoa.

The residency, a partnership established between Creative New Zealand and the university in 2006, offers New Zealand resident Pacific artists the opportunity to develop their potential, skills and practice.

“This residency is usually offered to an individual artist but we are thrilled to support this collective. Each artist has a reputation for producing innovative work and demonstrates the contribution Pacific artists make to New Zealand culture. Vahine Collective aligns well with celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of NZ-Samoa Treaty of Friendship,” says Pele Walker, chair of Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Committee.

The residency builds on work the Auckland based Vahine Collective began in 2002, in Samoa. Together they studied ancient rock platforms called tia seu lupe (pigeon snaring mounds) and discovered symbols, patterns and shapes which revealed the significance of pigeons and pigeon snaring. Despite the sport (which was practiced by men of high rank) being stopped under missionary influence of the last century, its symbols, metaphors and status can still be found in Samoan oratory, and have influenced the artists profoundly. 

“You can still see the impact of the research in our work today.  But there is more to understand, such as the symbolism of pigeons; they are linked with divinity, femininity, spirituality and desirability. Also, the role of women in Samoan mythology is another area we want to look into”. 

Multi media, visual and installation artist Lonnie Hutchinson will spend the first month in Samoa where she will focus on tatau (tattoo) iconography and connections between lupe (pigeons), mythology and stellar navigation. Lonnie will take part in a programme of New Zealand cultural events under New Zealand Week in Samoa, which will be launched by Prime Minister John Key and organised by the New Zealand High Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade who also support the residency.

In September multi media artists Niki Hastings-McFall will begin her field research into Samoa’s national bird, the endangered manumea or tooth-billed pigeon. In October, visual artist Lily Laita will research traditional plants, oils and pigments for contemporary use and the significance of lupe (pigeons) and Nanaifanua (or Nafanua – Goddess of War) paintings.

This annual Creative New Zealand and the National University of Samoa Artist-in-Residence provides a total stipend of $15,000 for artists’ fees, accommodation and travel costs.  The stipend will be evenly split between the three participating artists. Established by the Pacific Arts Committee of the Arts Board of Creative New Zealand, Jim Vivieaere, Nathaniel Lees, Tiffany Singh and Fiona Collins are the previous recipients.