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).














New pathways ...

22 August 2012Last month I said 'I don't think art lies'.  I'm still there. Whenever I manipulate lines to fit my grid of understanding,  I run the risk losing something or interfering with something I haven't yet recognized, or is still emerging/arriving.   My 'adjustments' often show up in the finished work as just that - I can't hide them and can't live with them.  The trick might be to plan ahead as much as possible, keep the lines simple,  alive and minimise any additional fiddling. 

The starting place this month was the familiar semi circular lines' of moko wahine that I spent years making.  Then there was a switch to acrylics, to open skies,  horizons and semi circular,  over arching lines and  then the same lines - faster and freer in graphite and pastel.   I was startled by an unexpected reconciliation - new pathways in every day life and the work made.  

Reconciliation is also about meeting TLC assignments through my own frame of reference,  pushing out from known marks that pretty rapidly become mundane if I spend too long there,  and running headlong into the risks of being in new ground.  The red works are incomplete new paintings -  layerings of oil stick over acrylic... more to come on that.


Moana Tipa: