Marama Dina: Celebrating Pasifika heritage through art

Marama Dina: Celebrating Pasifika heritage through art

Featured image from Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Marama Dina, an exhibition led by Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand female artists with iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian) heritage, will feature next month at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in Sydney.

This international collaboration, taking place on August 17 to October 13, is the result of research and community workshops and sees the artists take over the gallery to share their exploration of cultural rejuvenation and celebration with the wider community.

Image by Sam Hartnett

Marama Dina is an exhibition born 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, or veiqia, and the impact of iTaukei practices on diasporic identities.

Veiqia was a rite of passage, girls were tattooed at puberty; the ceremony initiated them as women,” says Dulcie Stewart, a key researcher for The Veiqia Project.

Marking our skin is the act of reinscribing the importance of our bodies, a sovereignty that colonialism erased

Image of Dulcie Stewart by David Rogers © 2017

Dulcie, who will also be presenting her work at Marama Dina, says her heritage is the “driving force” of her arts practice.

“It’s informed by my personal history as well as my heritage,” she says.

“My work presents viewers with alternative ways of looking at the dominant Western narratives by re-framing the stories written about our past, and centering Fijian women.”

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 reflect on 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.

“The works focus on what contemporary Fijian woman’s identities in consideration of legacies of veiqia, colonisation, immigration,” co-curator and exhibiting artist Salote Tawale says.

Image by Alex Kiers

A highlight of the new exhibition will be a vale ni soqo, or 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.

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,” Donita Vatuinaruku Hulme, Marama Dina artist and member of The Veiqia Project, says.

Image by Te Uru

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 will be sharing the exhibition space with Yirran Miigaydhu, an Indigenous Australian weaving project, and like The Veiqia Project, aims to connect with and embrace knowledge.

Exhibition details

WHERE: Campbelltown Arts Centre
WHEN: 17 August – 13 October 2019
OPENING: 17 August, 2pm – 4pm

Chanelle Mansour

Chanelle is a third-year Bachelor of Communication student at Western Sydney University, with a major in Journalism and sub-major in Creative Writing. Through writing focused and enlightening articles, Chanelle hopes to present and share news stories that readers will find both entertaining and educational. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]