"Tohinoa 'o' Manatu" ("Journal of My Memories") by Kulimoe'anga Stone Maka
April 28 - May 22, 2010
COCA Gallery, 66 Gloucester Street, Christchurch, New Zealand
In his exhibition, "Tohinoa 'o' Manatu" ("Journal of My Memories"), Kulimoe'anga Stone Maka continues his interest in ancient traditions of Tongan art, discovering some similarities and connections to Western art along the way.
In the process, Maka has developed his own form of abstract art based on the sacred Tongan art of ngatu 'uli (black tapa cloth). With works based on memories of his life in Tonga, Maka now hopes to introduce to a broad range of communities in Christchurch the ancient art of ngatu 'uli, and thereby keep it alive.
Born in a small village in Tonga, Maka describes himself as a Pacific artist. He immigrated to New Zealand in 1997 and completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the Manukau Institute of Technology's School of Visual Arts in 2002. Since 2005, Maka has lived in Christchurch, where he has focused his research and practice on ngatu 'uli.
Ngatu 'uli is a dark-coloured bark cloth traditionally made for Tongan Royalty. Although no longer exclusively reserved for use by monarchy, ngatu 'uli continues to be a highly valued art form in Tonga, now also used at weddings and funerals.
In 2007, Maka travelled back to Tonga, where he interviewed older people about ngatu 'uli and involved himself in the intensive process of ngatu production and dye-making. Each stage of this process has particular conventions, which add to the fundamental essence of the finished ngatu.
Ngatu 'uli is different to the more common bleached ngatu, featuring solid black rectangular shapes painted with black dye, and is marked by the absence of lines, patterns and motifs.
As part of his desire to bring to light Pacific art practices that are not well known or understood, Maka has a strong desire to encourage the continuing practice of traditional bark-cloth production.
For more information, please visit www.coca.org.nz/exhibitions.