My arts or creative practice (including details about my specific focus within that art form/practice and my strengths)
My creative arts practice is always about exploration; my current focus is wānanga, raranga and public artwork. There always seems to be an interactive element to my work, with an understanding that people are our power, people are our importance. Activating wānanga in regards to raranga and public artwork takes patience and diligence. Digging for deeper understandings that exceed hierarchies and arrogance can be slow burning, but ultimately seeing work that created by collective is what makes it worth it.
I believe this is a lifelong journey in my arts practice but it has been my focus. I find artwork to be political of course, but I want to save room for joy. Freedom of expression is important for our hauora. Outside of my collective work, my practice extends into painting, screenprinting, ceramics, poetry and digital work. I have a strong focus on decolonisation of self, and our immediate realities. It is always important for us to continue questioning our resources, and art gives people a great platform to explore and feel for ourselves. A site I use that is updated consistently with my mahi toi is Instagram (link available on request).
My track record of experience and success - or the track record of experience and success of the creative or artist that I will partner with
My creative history started when I was 17 at a polytechnic fine arts graduate programme. I was able to create, explore and grow as an artist. I had many exhibitions, within the school of art and beyond. I have curated solo exhibitions, joined group exhibitions and traversed many mediums. I had a creative expedition in India and painted murals for six months through different festivals and art villages. I was stationed between two main states within India: Uttar Pradesh and Maharastra. This was my first experience of understanding social practice, working as a collective to catalyse social change. We pushed many ideas attached to identity, decolonisation and sexuality, successfully creating an art village that’s purpose was to educate and reduce stigma. Cultural exchange became the forefront of our purpose, understanding the similarities of Te Ao Māori and many collective cultures within India.
After this experience i partook in an all womens’ street art festival. Women from all over India and abroad came together to create an art village in Marol east located in Mumbai. We worked hand-in-hand with a society that fought developers and co-created a public space for the community. I curated an exhibition here which included artists from Aotearoa and India.
Living in Tāmaki Makaurau presented me with many opportunities for public artwork and community involvement. I have been frequent with my artistic activity alongside other artist communities that are close to me who advocate for social change. After a long hiatus of study, I have embarked on post-graduate studies at Toi Houkura – a Māori visual arts school in Gisborne. I continue to work on my side projects but am focused on my end-of-year project that involves working with other communities to push forward a new narrative that surrounds New Zealand identity and a place of belonging.
Describe the experience you have had working with children or young people, teaching or facilitating creative processes
I have had the privilege of working alongside rangatahi in many environments. My entry started from afterschool care for primary and intermediate throughout different schools in the Waikato. I am currently involved in a mentoring programme steeping in Te Ao Māori practices, helping to facilitate the E hine wing. We dedicate monthly wānanga to enrich young women with Māoritanga and support through the growing pains of the teenage phase. The importance of this wānanga is not only in the whakamana aspects for our kōhine, but to reclaim histories that empower our women to be strong within their Māori identity.
I often participate in fellow mentor/mental health workers hui such as holiday programmes, community murals/workshops or curating creative environments with youth to broaden their thoughts around identity and political issues. International experience with rangatahi include mural workshops that were inclusive to a womens’ only festival in Mumbai, India. Workshops I facilitated encouraged freedom of movement and confidence with young women ages 12 to 20. We started with paper, and went to the streets to create a collective mural, understanding how to work as a group, promote our individual style but also complement each other’s abilities. I understand the complexities that our young ones face and I feel confident I have been able to engage with rangatahi at a level that is relatable, impressionable and of course appropriate. I will always hope that I can encourage creativity and confidence in our rangatahi because it is imperative for their self-esteem, because if we 100% believe in them, they will believe in their own capabilities as our future generation.
Why I want to be part of the Creatives in Schools programme and how my involvement will link to my creative practice
I think it would be helpful to have support through the Creative in School programme to explore further ways to whakamana our rangatahi with creative practice in the hopes more work can be produced and deeper kaupapa can be achieved. This programme captivated me as I have been making connections with many peoples through my creative practice in the past couple of years. A lot of my projects have been worked around people sharing ideas, informing others and creating. I have been interested in exploring how art can utilise passions and inspiration in rangatahi to encourage confidence and fluid thought. Art is an awesome communicator and I always make sure to try come from a place of a neutral protector, that allows younger ones to explore their ideas and creativity without judgement.