10 Questions: Ema Tavola, Natural Selection (Issue #7) Winter 2010

What did you have for breakfast?
Scrambled eggs + toast.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in Suva, Fiji and raised in London and Brussels. I finished my secondary education in Wellington, New Zealand.

How has your thinking changed / what have you learnt?
I do a lot of looking, observing from the outside… I have a lot of questions, and am often plagued with contradiction. I have learnt to own my position of enquiry, and not dissect it to fit into other people’s boxes.

What would you consider your greatest achievement?
Leaving Fiji to manage life solo in Aotearoa.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I definitely overuse ‘potentially’. And ‘strategically’. And I swear a lot.

Who do you admire and why?
I admire people who work hard, because they are inspiring and make me want to work hard too. I admire people who embed their lives in service to their communities. And I admire mothers, because it feels like shaping a child’s life and experience is the most important job in the world.

What book last made an impression on you?
Musrum by Eric Thacker and Anthony Earnshaw.

One thing you wish you had?
The ability to live in two places at once.

On what occasion would you lie?
I have issues with honesty.

Which piece of art really matters to you?
A painting called 4 Women (2008) by Sangeeta Singh; I bought it in Suva.

Who are you listening to at the moment?
Birds… I had bronchitis recently and my ears were semi–blocked, I somehow tuned into the bird frequency, and since then have not stopped hearing the birds. There are tui in my garden, who always make me smile.. on the inside.

What do you like around you while you work?
A cup of tea, reference material, snacks and Blu–tack.

What is art for?
To reflect the human condition.

Read more from Natural Selection here

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