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).














Less is best, less is enough

4 November 2012The way I describe the art I make,  is better than the art I actually make - for now.  This past year has been one experiment after another and seemingly a million miles from the goals set at the beginning of the year to complete a series of works for exhibition by March April 2013 - "Measuring Lines".  These were works started in 2009 and 2010 that I simply didn't have enough experience in the can to complete confidently.   Somewhat surprisingly, I can see my way forward with them as a result of new techniques, new learning and the mentoring of Jess McCue at The Learning Connexion.  Their approach with me has been direction towards my own arts goals and to prompt, suggest and refer to the expertise and learning of so many others.  The learning has been a vital link in bringing the compelling, ever present stream of ideas up out of the waahi ngaro - the unseen place of the imagination and into the light of day ... literally.   More on that next month.  The little works and photographs posted here are lovely things that caught my eye in Melbourne.   Thank you, thank you TLC.  I'm really blessed to be doing what I love. 


Moana Tipa: