Artist shares talents with Aitutaki students

Monday July 18, 2016 Written by Published in Outer Islands
Artist Michel Tuff ery (left) with Araura College counsellor Thomas Wynne. 16071403 Artist Michel Tuff ery (left) with Araura College counsellor Thomas Wynne. 16071403

WHEN New Zealand-Pacific artist Michel Tuffery visited Atitutaki this week to run a series of art workshops through the World War One Sound Shells for the Kuki Airani Soldiers project, he caught up with Araura College counsellor Thomas Wynne.


Wynne posted on Facebook that Tuffery had conducted a two-day session with college students.

“It’s so good to have our brother and his wife Jane sharing his taonga and developing the prints celebrating the Cook Islands contribution to World War One,” said Wynne.

Tuffery spent from Saturday to Thursday on Aitutaki, working with students and the wider community before heading to Atiu, for more workshops. He was scheduled to return to Rarotonga today Tuffery and will hold workshops for Tereora students at the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute in Ngatangiia from Monday to Wednesday and for students and teachers from Titkikaveka, Papaaroa and Imanuela Akatemia from Wednesday to Friday.

Tuffery’s Wikipedia listing describes him as one of New Zealand’s best-known artists, with his work held in many art collections in New Zealand and around the world.

Renowned as a printmaker, painter and sculptor, Tuffery has gained national and international recognition, and has made a major contribution to New Zealand art.

One of his distinctive sculptures from 1994 is the life-sized work, entitled Pisupo lua afe (Corned beef 2000), which was constructed from flattened and riveted re-cycled corned beef tins. His work is shaped by his research into, and encounters with his Polynesian heritage while making use of Maori design.

According to information originally published in Tai Awatea, Te Papa museum’s database, Tuffery is one of a number of New Zealand-born Pacific Islanders who reference their Pacific identity in their work whilst using European mediums.

“We’re this third generation,” said Tuffery. “We were born here, in New Zealand. If you go to a new place you create a new culture, and that’s what we’re doing. I don’t think it’s a trend at all, it’s a coming to grips.”

Art played a crucial part in Tuffery’s childhood as he is dyslexic, so he found it a way to communicate.

“Drawing was an excuse not to write. Teachers would try and get me to write by saying that if I wrote a sentence they would let me draw on the other side of the page.”

Works created during Tuffery’s visit will be exhibited at the Cook Islands National Museum and open to public viewing from July 29 till the end of August.

The works may also reach a much wider audience, with tentative plans to exhibit them in France next year.    

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