11 Jul 2018
Visual artist Ioane Ioane will embark on a journey exploring his cultural roots and the art of building a Va’aaolo (traditional fishing canoe), as the 2018 Creative New Zealand Samoa Artist in Residence.
A partnership with the National University of Samoa, with support from the New Zealand High Commission in Apia, the residency offers three months in Apia for a mid-career or established New Zealand artist of Pacific heritage to work on an arts project and to develop their skills and practice.
Ioane, who spent six years in Samoa as a child, will research how to construct and then begin building a ten-metre va'aaolo, which he will complete on his return to New Zealand.
“The residency will be a chance to reconnect with my roots through living and working in my ancestral island. My goal is to promote the ancient craft of va'aaolo.”
Helping to preserve traditional va’aalo building skills and passing them on to younger generations is a crucial goal for Ioane, who will learn from local master va’a builders so he can hone his skills and also share his knowledge with students at the university.
The residency is also an opportunity for Ioane to explore Pacific navigation heritage through a contemporary, multi-disciplinary lens that looks at the traditional approach of Samoan canoe building and maritime culture.
His late grandfather Leiataua Herbert Phineas lived in Faatoia, Upolu, and worked for the NZ Union Steamship Company in Apia for 40 years. He was also the captain of the Manono Islands fautasi (long-boat La’au ole sau’uali’i) racing boat that competed in the early Samoa independence celebration races.
“The immersion into Samoan daily life will allow me to demystify and challenge my ‘Kiwi perceptions’ of my cultural heritage,” he says.
Ioane plans to document his time in Apia with a video diary that will record his practice development. It will be informed by the university staff, students and local community.
At the end of his residency he will produce an audio-visual art installation, using sound, sculpture and video projection that will be influenced by all his experiences in Samoa.
The annual residency is funded by Creative New Zealand and provides NZD $15,000 for the artist towards an artist stipend, accommodation and travel costs.
Previous recipients have included Lemi Ponifasio, Tiffany Singh, Yuki Kihara, Fiona Collins, Nathaniel Lees and Evotia Tamua.