I was drawn to the Macmillan Brown Pacific Artist Residency as an opportunity to develop and strengthen my connection with communities based in the Canterbury region. The project also built upon my existing interest in creating an archival body and documentary zone of works. Which are most evident in my ongoing works StoryTelling as Koha and Linda T TV. Through artist talks, interviews, an interactive studio practice and exhibitions I was able to continue to build upon my artistic practice while contributing to the local community.
The residency involved over 30 distinct events over the course of three months. In my practice, sourcing and recording stories to contribute to a living archive is a political, social and artistic tool.
My studio practice at The Hut involved having regular open studio sessions involving camera set-ups, conversations, interview sessions, food for Pacific and arts community students & staff to drop by and share, inquire as to why I am passionate about story collections, archiving, documenting, camera media & exhibiting for public engagement.
My exhibition at The Physics Room Spontaneous Intentionality brought together a variety of stories with women sharing a piece of themselves for public consumption. Although most were very shy, they all performed diligently with the willingness to participate & be supportive to my project builds. A final edit of the short-story footage from the Pacific Otautahi (Christchurch) communities enabled me to present a series of multi-screen installations. The exhibition was both an outcome and a continuation of community engagement, as it offers people an opportunity to view and share their own stories with others.
This residency has enabled me to build a new community network of Pacific people & art supporters. Also create a new body of works involving Otautahi based people. The bonus being the opportunity to find & consolidate a relationship with local iwi tribal members. Being able to financially support Aotearoa New Zealand artists, Otautahi families by creating opportunities of artistic support. Purchasing artist made wares, through books, music, postcards, visual aides, event tickets to local shows, concerts, writers talks, theatre productions, documentaries & film events ie Merata: How Mum Indigenised The Screen by Heperi Mita & Vai the Pacific directed collaborative film project.
Consolidating a community network that would assist in being supportive to future Macmillan Brown Pacific artists, was also an intention & hope.
Thank you to ALL the Macmillan Brown selection team & support staff, for selecting me for this epic adventure. Especially the local artists, the Pacific peoples, LGBTQIA+ communities & iwi for their time. CHEERS to all the new people that I will smile at in our future.
Quotes from Otautahi people
It was an absolute pleasure hosting Tuafale (Linda T) during her time as an artist in residency at the University of Canterbury. I was invited to attend a number of events with Tuafale during her time in Christchurch, including a special screening of Vai, a meet and greet with members of the Ardijah whānau, and more intimate gatherings with the Pacific artist community here in Ōtautahi. I have made some beautiful connections through my friendship with Tuafale, and I am incredibly thankful for the time and space we were able to share.
It was my absolute honour to be able to reciprocate her generosity by showing her around my rohe. We were able to fit in a walking tour through the Christchurch CBD, a day-trip to Okains Bay and Akaroa, and an overnight visit to Lake Takapō and the brand new Dark Skies Project there.
I was honoured to have been asked to be a featured speaker in her latest project, “Spontaneous Intentionality”. The opening of her exhibition was fabulous, and I was humbled to have been able to play a small part in it. Tuafale is more than a friend now. She is family. And I look forward to collaborating on many more projects together in the future.
E kore e mimiti te puna aroha mōu.
Ngā mihi nui.
Kari Moana Kururangi
“Tuafale’s presence at the school made the future of positive and productive creative communities seem like a legitimate possibility”
Min Her, UC Fine Arts Student
“It is clear that gifting and exchange are essential to Tuafale’s practice – from gifting meals to sculpture students to inviting local voices to participate in her films. Tuafale’s storytelling is refreshingly honest and generous.”
Orissa Keane, UC Fine Arts Student
It was a special honour for Christchurch to have Tuafale/ Linda T. as Macmillan Brown artist in residence this year. Linda T. has been quietly working away in the trenches of NZ and Pacific arts for decades and it seems to me her contribution has often been overlooked and undervalued. Her work as an artist has always been intrinsically part of our Pacific arts community in New Zealand.
The key concept here being Community, with a capital C. Linda T. did what she does while Macmillan Brown artist, that is, she functions not just as an artist doing her own work, but an artist who supports and promotes other artists and creates artistic community.
During her time in Christchurch, Linda T created a number of events in the short time she was with us. As well as “Spontaneous Intentionality” – the exhibition of the work she completed during her residency and contributing to the life of the university, she also produced what amounted to be a mini festival open to the public. “Spontaneous Intentionality: The Performance” This came at the very end of her residency and included a number of performances: poetry, fashion show, music, DJing.
Linda T. together with The Physics Room funded this event, paying guest artist’s airfares and fees and a substantial community meal for the participants and audience. This is classic Linda T. and sets her apart from any other artist I know of. This is part of her art practice, and for this I hold her with the greatest admiration and respect and will miss her presence in Christchurch.
Tusiata Avia (Poet, writer extraordinaire) described by Tuafale T.
It was lovely having you on the MBC team for the last three months. The Spontaneous Intentionality work you produced was thought provoking and entertaining. Even captured the younger audiences. The closing event you had at the Arts Centre was also a space that reflected the spontaneous intentionality spirit, where the three of us were thrown into the deep end, modelling, Designer Jeanine Clarkin clothes. We are privileged to have met some of your friends and colleagues there.
Your work had put us out of our comfort zones but was in a safe space. Which definitely prompted growth within ourselves. Thank you for your delicious soup. It was an awesome trick you had up your sleeves, which enticed us to coming along to your office like innocent hungry students, that got us trapped in:
– speaking in front of the camera;
– and modelling…hehe…;
Thank you for the opportunity and wishing you all the best. Hope to meet up again somewhere in this small world.
Karlyn UC PhD Pasefika student
Sofia, TT, Karlyn, Asha
It’s not often in Ōtautahi that an event like Tuafale Tanoa’i’s Spontaneous Intentionality: A Performance, pops up. The city has been fractured repeatedly, and creating a warm, cohesive community vibe in a temporary space is challenging. Tuafale has a gift in bringing people together – across generations and spanning different cultures, crafts, and art practices. The low-fi set up and her long honed skill as a documenter gently shift people from passive observers to active participants. Spontaneous Intentionality was a prime example of this. Tuafale stood by the door for much of it, DJing from a position where she could welcome people individually as they entered.
The day’s runsheet was approximate and flexible. There was plenty of shared kai. We were encouraged to interact with a display of garments in incredibly disparate in materials, but similar in ethos, by designers Steven Park (6×4) and Jeanine Clarkin. The latter were modelled in the space by a group made up predominantly of unsuspecting audience members who came to hang out, and were recruited. Renown Ōtautahi based poet Tusiata Avia shredded the audience with a poetry set on the steps outside, traversing from Samoa and her father’s death, to the white terrorist attacks on the city on March 15th. Unsuspecting visitors to the deli next door seemed bemused – catching fragments of her darkness mixed with the casual party atmosphere of the day.
Sitting in the midwinter sun, watching the heartfelt gratitude between Tuafale and Tusiata diffuse the poetry’s tension, it struck me how lucky we’ve been to have Tuafale as the McMillan Brown Pacific Artist in Residence this year. Her documentary practice operates in a series of seemingly humble gestures, which nevertheless amplify and prioritise narratives, centring people and moments in time that might otherwise be overlooked.
Her exhibition at The Physics Room brought both different subjects and audiences to the space, shifting and making visible ‘the norm’. Tuafale’s generosity creates an openness in those who encounter her art, which in turn creates possibility for meaningful connection, rippling out to social change. In Ōtautahi in 2019, there is a need for this kind of practice. The cross pollination that occurs during this residency with the artist and local communities is always meaningful, but Tuafale’s contribution has been exceptional. I’m sure it’ll lead to future collaborations, and that Tuafale will revisit Ōtautahi.
Khye – LGBTQIA+ arts community hero described by Tuafale T.
Khye & friends
During Tuafale Tanoa’i’s time in Otautahi for the Macmillan Brown residency I became involved in her community event “Spontaneous intentionality: The performance”. Having met her in Auckland in 2014 I had not seen her in many years so it was a very special to be invited to contribute to her performance and be involved in her work. I have always admired how she makes everyone feel welcome and at ease; creating spaces where people can connect and build community. My contribution to the performance was an improvised A Capella performance by three singers in full costume. Being a part of this event and attending other events associated with Tuafale’s residency I made many great connections to people in Otautahi’s art community. My life and work is much richer with her in it.
Was great having you in The Hut. To have an MB artist in residence so visible and engaged with sofa was awesome. Seeing the work progress, the collaboration and being involved with what’s needed to keep things moving, but also to get an idea of your wider practice. This is the way it needs to be! You’ve set the bar!
Aidan UC Technician
University of Canterbury (UC) Pacific community with Professor Steven Ratuva
To read more…
UC New Artist in Residence defies convention – UC Communications:
Or to listen…
Tuafale Tanoa’i with Jesse Mulligan, Radio NZ:
Influences mentioned: Merata Mita, Miriam Makeba, Maya Angelou, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Ava DuVernay, Array & Ardijah. Google these wonderful creatives.