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Autism students to display masterpieces at inaugural art auction

Tuesday 26 September 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Education, National


Autism students to display masterpieces at inaugural art auction
William Estall with volunteer Mellissa Brown and his individual piece that goes into the group piece. KAT JENSEN/23092508

Following 10 weeks of fun and hard work, the cool and creative artists of Takavekave Tatou, the Autism Cook Islands art programme, will be displaying their masterpieces this Thursday evening.

The art pieces will be up for auction at the inaugural Takavekave Tatou Art Auction & Exhibition at The Lucky Rooster Eatery in town from 5.30pm.

Eleven students – Joelle Tinirau, Reon Enoka, Moana Adams, Aporo Vano, Isaiah Vano, Eden Tipokoroa, Metua Douglas, Troy Rere, George Jnr Ngatikao, William Estall and Benaiah Fe’ao – have created their masterpieces under the guidance of artist Hori Miller and a band of “fantastic volunteers”.

Kat Jensen, Autism Cook Islands programme manager, said the project is part of their Positive Pathways Programme for teenagers with autism in the Cook Islands.

“We would really like our community to come along on Thursday to support and celebrate our children and students with us,” said Jensen.

“The programme has been so rewarding watching the kids grow in each session and being able to express themselves through art.

“We encouraged them to create whatever they wanted to, and they became so much more confident in drawing, sanding, painting.

“They have loved this so much that they were all turning up early and even coming in when they were not feeling too well as they did not want to miss out, we had 100 per cent attendance.

“Come along and celebrate our young artists.”

Artist Hori Miller said his experience with the students was enjoyable and heart-warming.

“Once these artists could see the steps and stages involved in creating larger artworks from their sketches, their development, enthusiasm and skills was awesome to see,” Miller said.

“The parents and volunteers have come a long way too, they’re all legends.”

Autism Cook Islands is excited to be exhibiting and sharing their experience with their families and the community.

The proceeds from the auction will go towards supporting Autism’s Positive Pathways Programme, with a percentage going to the artists and to a charity of the artists’ collective choosing.

Jensen would like to acknowledge the “amazing” volunteers who assisted with the programme: Pete Jones, Craig and Penny Murray, Sahara Lang, Mary Kay Kidd, Rob and Melissa Brown, who spent Saturday mornings helping the students, making heart-warming connections with them.