FMC VXN at Fresh Gallery Otara!

South Auckland’s FMC VXN is performing at Fresh Gallery Otara for the region-wide Auckland Arts Festival WHITE NIGHT programme this Saturday 12 March from 9pm onwards!

The evening starts with Leilani Kake’s artist talk, discussing her brand new work, Ngā Hau E Whā – The Four Winds from 6.30pm onwards.

FMC VXN was announced last week as the supreme winner of HUSTLE IT FRESH, a talent quest televised on TVNZ’s new hit Pacific youth programme, FRESH.

This will be FMC VXN’s FIRST gig since the announcement, right here on her home ground!

Fresh Gallery Otara presents WHITE NIGHT is a free event taking place at Fresh Gallery Otara, 5/46 Fairmall, Otara Town Centre, South Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand.

6pm – Midnight, Saturday 12 March

ALL WELCOME!

Hand Made Exhibition // DRAWING SOUTH AUCKLAND

DRAWING SOUTH AUCKLAND was a user-generated drawing installation that was developed at Fresh Gallery Otara over three weeks in November 2010. The gallery’s community was invited to make drawings to be part of a constantly evolving mural-in-pieces. It stands as a fascinating insight into the lives and times of the community surrounding Fresh Gallery Otara. Over 400 drawings were made with over 300 installed on the Gallery’s walls. Censorship applied to explicit gang associated and/or pornographic/offensive imagery and tagging.

Some of my favourite drawings:


This is one of many drawings by Fa’a, he’s 11 years old and goes to St John The Evangelist School in Otara.


Unknown artist.


Tanu Gago contributed some Jerry The Fa’afafine


Unknown artist.

Click here for a full album of photographic documentation of DRAWING SOUTH AUCKLAND

Click here to follow Fresh Gallery Otara on Twitter

The Young Kila Writers

Empowering young Pacific writers to take the plunge and write their first play, Kila Kokonut Krew, the South Auckland based theatre and entertainment company, has supported three new KILA WRITERS including the excellent Leilani Salesa.

The Young Kila Writers Play Readings take place this Sunday 19 September at Mangere Arts Centre – Nga Tohu o Uenuku. Just $10 on the door.

Thinking of Luse

Luse Nemani at the opening of "Maka Tu'u Taha" at Fresh Gallery Otara (2007)

At age 81, Lusefamanatu (Luse) Nemani passed away on Friday 13 August in Otara. Luse has been one of our biggest supporters at Fresh Gallery Otara, having seen just about every show since we opened in May 2006. Luse was a member of the original Pasifika Arts o Manukau Trust, the organisation that was behind the creation of my role as Pacific Arts Coordinator for Manukau City Council. She was a Tongan warden for the Otara Town Centre and involved in so many initiatives and projects.

Luse has been a comforting friend and advisor to me, giving me insight into her mixed cultural heritage of Tongan and Niuean, her migration and life in Otara. I always appreciated her warmth and interest in my life. She made the most beautiful garlands/lei out of recycled sheet plastic, and knitted so many people warm winter scarves; we sold her lei and crochet work in the 2006 and 2007 ‘Under $100 Art Sale’ exhibitions and she was involved in our first anniversary exhibition, Fresh Gallery Otara Turns 1!


I loved when Luse would sing; she was always intending to record an album of songs in Niuean, Tongan, Fijian and English at Otara Music Arts Centre. I wish she did. She had the softest, most beautiful voice that reminded me of old Hawaiian love songs.

I’m happy that in the past two years, Fresh Gallery Otara hosted two Tongan exhibitions that Luse loved. In February 2009, Koloa et al: Your Art is my Treasure curated by Charmaine ‘Ilaiu and Nina Tonga showcased the Tongan artforms of weaving and backcloth design. In April 2010, Tongan Style curated by Manuēsina Mahina and Kolokesa Uafā Māhina-Tuai profiled the work of five Tongan women working in the mediums of embroidery, crochet, garment construction and church fashion.

Luse didn’t mind contemporary art, but always loved when the references to customary practice were recognisable. Her readings of paintings by Kulimoe’anga Maka and Samiu Napa’a, and sculptures by Visesio Siasau and Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi, always gave us food for thought.

I miss Luse already. I will always remember her warmth and love, her generosity and insight, her cheekiness, and how she loved hearing Tongan songs sung when we would have a kava band playing at Fresh Gallery Otara openings. Her service to the Otara community sets the bar so high, and I know her passing will be felt by so many people whose lives she touched.

‘Ofa lahi atu, Luse.

Gary Lee and Me

Meeting Australian photographer, Gary Lee was the highlight of my time in Rarotonga. I have had a special love affair with Lee’s work since I bought the 2005 issue of Artlink with his image, Shaba on the front cover. Working with Samoan filmmaker and emerging artist Tanu Gago, we have discussed Lee’s work at length in recent months.

Nigel Borell, Ema Tavola, Maurice O'Riordan and Dan Taulapapa McMullin

The August 2010 issue of Art Monthly Australia, themed ‘OzPasifika’, was launched on Tuesday 10 August at BCA Gallery to coincide with the opening of TOP16 a solo exhibition by Janet Lilo curated by Ron Brownson. It’s an excellent issue that feels very special, including great profiles of Torika Bolatagici, Lisa Hili, Chantal Fraser, Maryann Talia Pau and Eric Bridgeman. It’s refreshing to see another Australasian art publication providing space  for Pacific and indigenous writing and response.

On my knees begging for a show!

Gary Lee, you so rocked my world!

Tanu Gago // New Work

Tanu Gago is a south Auckland-based Samoan filmmaker who I’m working with to produce his first solo exhibition, YOU LOVE MY FRESH opening in September at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Manukau City. Tanu was a contributing artist to the smallaxe09 project, a collaborative video work produced by Janet Lilo and I as part of the invitational exhibition profiling new art venues at Auckland’s ARTSPACE gallery in September 2009. Tanu’s short film, The Woods, also featured in the inaugural Manukau Film Festival in 2008.

YOU LOVE MY FRESH is an experimental video installation exploring Samoan identity, intergenerational cultural transmission and gender in south Auckland.


Umu day, an initiative teaching young New Zealand-born Samoans how to prepare an umu / earth oven.

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The Kool Kids Company – Tanu Gago’s production company.

Tanu’s drawing practice is also of note, his current body of work is based around a character inspired by Dan Taulapapa McMullin‘s poetry collection, A Drag Queen Named Pipi.

Jerry the Fa’afafine is an ongoing series of drawings exploring Samoan masculinity.

Tanu opened our second Manukau City edition of Pecha Kucha Night in November 2009 for the Manukau Festival of Arts with a fantastic, inspiring presentation that can be seen here.

Jordan Souza // Aotearoa

Hawaiian visual artist and tattooist Jordan Souza came to Auckland as the Tautai Trust 2010 Artist in Residence in March. The focus of the residency is networking and developing professional relationships. It was excellent spending time with Jordan, introducing him to Auckland-based Pacific artists and especially learning more about tattooing. He spent a month with my housemate Tanu Gago and I, spending days and nights talking art, tattooing, Hawaii… travel and music… and tattooing… lots of friends! Thank you Jordan, we will all remember you for the rest of our lives!

Jordan designed this custom piece in collaboration with Tanu, nine flowers represent his nine sisters.

After I tattooed a banana leaf outline on my left thigh, Jordan finished it off

Jordan met Monty Collins, Mangere-based graphic designer at Fresh Gallery Otara.

He added to Monty’s extensive sleeve and chest pieces with a Marquesian inspired chest/side piece.

We were all feeling Monty’s pain… but it looked so mean when it was finished!

My beautiful friend Melissa loves her new chrysanthemum tattoo.

Multimedia artist and story-teller, Nia-val Ngaro had a design in mind taken from the prow of a Cook Islands canoe.

This was a beautiful pre-wedding treat for Nia-val.

This custom piece was made for Samoan musician Quincy Ray Filiga.

Jordan tattooed two matching secala / kingfishers on my hips, which I love. The secala /kingfisher is the totem bird from my village Dravuni, in Kadavu, Fiji. The image is based on a kingfisher from the Nice Work stationery range, re-drawn by Monty Collins.

Encouraged to make an experimental video work for the Tautai event, Off Stage, Jordan collaborated with Tanu Gago to make this quick video, offering a passer-by on Karangahape Road a free tattoo!

More photos from Jordan Souza’s stay

Jordan Souza’s art website

ARTLINK // Nice one

The current issue of Australia’s ARTLINK magazine has inspired me…

We don’t have any arts publications in New Zealand that give space and editorial powers to indigenous art thought. I wish we did. Thanks for the inspiration, Artlink…