I am a self taught art maker.  I started drawing when I was nine and went to an art school for kids set up by art educator, Gordon Tovey at King Edward Technical College in Dunedin (1956).   Use of other media came a little later and continued informally into adult life alongside the disciplines of music, songwriting, recording,  commercial writing & production for radio, that led to arts journalism, facilitation and curation.  
In the time of the Settlement of Ngai Tahu  with the Crown, the arts were seen as way to move the tribe forward and away from grievance.    I facilitated events featuring the work and thinking  of Ngai Tahu artists across performing, visual and language arts disciplines.  Coupled with my re-established faith in Christ, a need to paint grew,  alongside accelerated dimensions of colour, form and thought.  After four dynamic years with my iwi Ngai Tahu,  change was on my horizon.   I was interested in the application of the arts as a tool to build and strengthen skill amongst people groups and communities where there was less opportunity for creative development.  I was uncertain how that would transpire. 

At intervals between 2003 and 2009 I trialled arts programmes as a tool amongst prisoners in Canterbury Prisons. The idea was to use the arts to begin talking / thinking about vision and goals for their future.   I made art alongside men, women and youth, and took small collections of their work to public audiences outside the wire.  There were a number of smaller and some large scale works and events developed  over a period of 6 years including the Ruia Prison Arts Fund Raising exhibition (see Prison Art pages).

I received an Arts Access Aotearoa National Award for Arts Services to Prisoners in 2007.  On the back of that I joined two other writers to develop a National Prison Art Strategy for Arts Access Aotearoa and the Department of Corrections Wellington (2008-2012).  That work was completed in a time of major constraint;  the new Key government, a global economic downturn and complex restructuring of government departments.  

 In this period I met with The Learning Connexion who were delivering NZQA programmes to prisoner populations across New Zealand.  I was offered a series of scholarships between 2010 and 2015 that would familiarise me with their entire curriculum, activate a formal arts practice and introduce me to an all important understanding of materiality;  the use of, and to some degree a pursuit of mastery of  materials in order to have that material information translate into the narrative of work.  (See Arts Workshop on this site).














2015 - GROUNDWORK / NAVIGATION / WHAKATAATUTU The Learning Connexion, Wellington

9 December 2014

October 6th 2014 marked the start of full-time painting & drawing scholarship with The Learning Connexion in Wellington NZ mentored by Peter Adsett (Melbourne).  I'm eight weeks into the Advanced Level 7 course realising I have little language for the territory I find myself.  Through the course of study and experimentation around process, materiality and horizontality the white paint on black builder's paper works arrived.  These works use both paint and the builder's paper as structures.  White being the floor and black working as a wall...  A key element of the work is an  indicator of time.

February 2015 started with a slow response to 'shifters' - elements in 2D works that cause a work to shift, focus or refocus.  The elements of line, linguistics, colour, shadow, on existent images /  collage etc are used to prioritise or bring the purpose of the work into clear view. 

 In the month of March  / April 2015 - site specific work was inspired by shadows on  concrete stairs in an outdoor auditorium I noticed 18 months earlier.   My focus was the uniform lines of moving shadow.  The resulting photographs prompt the geometric lines / patterns / grids reminiscent of navigational histories. 

 I  manipulated images to meet/align/respond to instinct, and in fact discovered marks that I'd been making for almost 20 years. I  began considering how or if the images could be progressed to respond to course directives of  materiality, process, verticality, horizontality, structure and ground. They could.  Armed with 12 gram unprimed tent canvas, eyeleted for easy transportation, I started experimenting with charcoal brushed wet into the grain of the fabric.  I used photos for reference and began to navigate the dark spaces that opened up.  One unresolved work although finished, led to another.

Navigating seemed to be the governing aspect of this work;   unchartered spaces of faith,  unknown earth and ocean,  ideas of measuring, surveying and charting depths / learning in the dark ...  to arrive at a point of resolve.      Seven x 2 metre works were made.  Five were shown as a series, in  a graduation exhibition, along with initiating photographic notes. 



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