• Chantel Matthews

Morning pages - Women, Art & Technology

A Planting Talanoa; from Material to Gender is an artist panel with Nikau Hindin, Vaimaila Urale, Tanya Edwards (Zoom) and Lady Tunakaimanu Fielakepa (Zoom). Mediated by Kolokesa Mahina.

What is Art to you?

Lady Tunakaimanu Fielakepa

A women prepares for all things they will need for such occasions (weddings, birth, christening, death). It is a women's duty to have such works ready and available in the house for family.

Tanya Edwards

Reflection of Tonga, not fluent and feel that that be fluent with Tongan art, keeps art and language alive. Heritage art, not to be ground breaking but able to teach someone else is important.

Vaimalia Urale

Western way of making art in art school teaches one to be individualistic ( ground breaking, come first, exclusive) whereas it is more about working collectively and as a cohort. Indigenous more about sharing, passing on the legacy of art making. Different attitudes, we have a communal village mentality. Many sacrifices (two daughters) name work after, heart breaking to let go of.

Nikau Hindin

Art is in the learning and knowledge sharing. Art is living and breathing in everyday practice of her people (lady Tuna) Hope to expand own practice, living and breathing in ceremonies, its touched, its about time, going through generations, made collectively. About whakapapa, teaching next generation. It is more than a physical, how it goes through time and weaves in peoples lives, contributes to society as a transformation in the everyday.

Technology - How work is produced?

Lady Tunakaimanu Fielakepa

Cannot do without the men, they have the land, we need permission where to plant the mulberry.

Usually men plant and maintain, women help now. the plant must not have branches, women check and break and cut, usually men but now women too. Now men join women to take the bark off, when its beating time, young men help, first stage is the hardest.

During the Peace core in the 1960's, an American tried to invent a manual beating machine. Copied years later to help beating, an electric machine. 2020 made aware someone else invented 8 beaters. Men help women, brings income, family work together, develop ways to make easier. Some women buy dye from shops however the dye is to hard , there is acid, and it starts to break up. These are made to last, not to be made quickly.

How can you call it natu if it doesn't have natu on it.

Who am I to criticise something somebody else does. It is a choice to buy it. More interested Kupesi. Every Kupesi has a story, interesting to trace. Do you claim as own if everyone has it?

Lady Tuna talked about a story of playing a joke, making new designs based on stories she has made up. ie the kakala is a sweet plant, taka (on the move) made a design called kakala taka and the story of it being only found in one village Hevalu.

Tanya Edwards

The end result is never the same when you cut corners, never as good as doing it the proper way. Access to things however means need to adapt.

Vaimalia Urale

Her design process - use google doc, table, use 4 keyboard characters <>\\ //

Recently had to make stencils, went to Cambrian plastic, PDF, Laser cut into sheets of A3 Perspex. Versatile.

Nikau Hindin

Learn from observing elders and how they interact with the world. Practice is time and space and placing of self. Taonga iho - conceptual framework, matauranga māori concepts. manifesting in physical ways. Lineage of ancestral knowledge, still alive in room right now.

Tongan Matua

Spoke of lines, spaces inbetween.

Stripping of flesh and blood, skeleton, intercept lines and space. Abstraction at its best level. Not representational but intersectional between line and space. Two basic colour, red and black. Black is a sound and composed of red, interplay of definition and composition.

Lady Tuna

Different ways of making the same thing.

Top later and bottom layer - make stronger and intercepting to make stronger.


I came away from the talanoa feeling very inspired in confident in my way of thinking. The ideas of my practice using time, space, in-between. I realise there is a need to simplify, slowdown, refine and don't rush at arriving to the work prematurely. All indigenous work has an embedded whakapapa just by being and existing and believing in our stories.

There is room for everyone to tell stories in their own unique way and who is anyone to criticise the way in which it is done. What was interesting is Urale comment on western institution encouraging individualism over collectivism. How the goal is to be ground breaking in ideas and work rather than sharing legacy so that it may continue to feed future generations.