Workshops on Mangaia, Aitutaki, Atiu and Rarotonga, are providing an opportunity for secondary school students to learn about the Cook Islands’ contribution to World War One through artistic expression.
Wider community engagement also forms an important component of the project, as Tuffery seeks to create collaborative work reflecting views and impressions of World War One’s impact on the Cook Islands then, and today. Sound Shells is a series of painted and carved artworks offering a fresh lens on the significant contribution made by Cook Islands soldiers through their contribution to the war effort 100 years ago, and specifically to their role as part of the NZ Pioneer Battalion in the tunnels of Arras, France.
The visit is funded by the New Zealand High Commission as part of efforts to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of World War One, with support from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Cook Islands RSA, Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute, Outer Island Councils, Air Rarotonga and secondary schools.
“We are delighted to host an artist of Michel’s calibre in the Cook Islands,” says New Zealand High Commissioner Nick Hurley.
“His workshops offer secondary school students a unique opportunity to work alongside an incredibly talented artist, while creating art that is distinctly Cook Islands and celebrates the important contribution by this country to World War One.”
Tuffery spent four days on Mangaia last week and before leaving for Aitutaki via Rarotonga, and wrote a Facebook post commenting on the warm welcome he had received on the island.
“It’s been an epic four-day mission to Mangaia,” he said. “Hit the ground running and as soon as we landed, the community were waiting for us in anticipation so we just jumped in.
“Jayne and I are incredibly humbled to have had this time with this community here. They are special, generous people and it’s a given as it’s in their DNA they are all naturally creative.
“It’s going to be hard to leave. A lot of self-reflecting about the World War One soldiers who came from Mangaia. Many stories have been shared.” The works created during Tuffery’s visit will be exhibited at the Cook Islands National Museum and open to public viewing from July 29 until the end of August, with a wider intention exhibiting the works in France during 2017. - Release/CS