It’s a delight and an honour as an Australian with Fijian iTaukei heritage to announce this exhibition led by Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand female artists, these iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian) heritage artists have collaborated as a result of research and community workshops to take over the gallery and share their exploration of cultural rejuvenation and celebration with the wider community.
Featuring new commissions by ten artists from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, Marama Dina considers female iTaukei identities in the diaspora, away from Fiji or away from village life. The artists each consider how their blood lines and contemporary lives come together, and how they embody the past, present and future, connecting with empowering cultural knowledge previously eroded by colonisation and migration.
Marama Dina is an exhibition borne of research and engagement, with ongoing work led by creative research collective The Veiqia Project, inspired by the almost-destroyed practice of Fijian female tattooing (veiqia) and the impact of iTaukei practices on diasporic identities. Members of the project have been in residence at the gallery since October 2017 and during this time have run workshops with women of Fijian ancestry, which were met with overwhelmingly positive responses from the community. Each session exploring iTaukei culture and contemporary arts created a communal space within which participants could seek knowledge and explore what it is to be a ‘Fijian’ woman in Western Sydney.
A highlight of the new exhibition will be a vale ni soqo (village meeting house). The installation will be constructed within the gallery to offer a welcoming space where Pasifika communities can gather, learn and share knowledge.
Michael Dagostino, Director – Campbelltown Arts Centre, says: “It’s been wonderful to see the deep connectivity that The Veiqia Project has generated with the community during their residency at Campbelltown Arts Centre. We’re looking at ways that we can challenge and change the institution by reforming artistic structures, focusing on community-engaged and artist-led contemporary arts strategies in Western Sydney. Marama Dina is an example of our unique approach to programming, providing a platform for artists that make a significant contribution to community cohesion and participation.”
Donita Vatuinaruku Hulme, Marama Dina artist and member of The Veiqia Project, says: “Dr Tarisi Vunidilo regularly reminded workshop participants that ‘women drive ceremony’. That’s a powerful statement. It’s like a straight line of power from generations of female ancestors to us, here today and every day. To me, it’s an invitation – to learn, to lead, to cooperate. It’s also a calling, to grow the majestic power of my Nene and Tatai.”
Artists presenting work include: Margaret Aull, Torika Bolatagici, Donita Vatuinaruku Hulme, Yasbelle Kerkow, Joana Monolagi, Dulcie Stewart, Salote Tawale, Luisa Tora, MC Trey aka Thelma Thomas and Emele Ugavule.
Marama Dina is respectfully led by a curatorium comprising members of The Veiqia Project, local Pasifika women and Campbelltown Arts Centre staff.
Marama Dina Where: Campbelltown Arts Centre
When: 17 August – 13 October 2019
Opening: 17 August, 2pm – 4pm