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When the past meets the present you get ‘Tukufakaholo’, a group exhibition which recently showed at the Bergman gallery in Auckland.
Loosely translated, Tukufakaholo means inheritance or hereditary and one of the eight artists involved in the exhibition was Benjamin Work who produced his art work on what Tukufakaholo means to him.
“It is the act of passing down knowledge, wisdom, from generation to generation and in some instances, it’s considered a koloa, or a treasured item within that family and the tala that’s woven into the fabric of that special treasure; that knowledge is being passed on through the generations,” Work says.
The Auckland-based artist has Tongan and Scottish heritage and his work explores his connection to the island of Vava’u which he picked up through his mother’s phone conversations.
“The title of this work is Pearls of knowledge and I felt the language that we were picking up on with my mother were like pearls of knowledge. I’ve included this telephone chord, in one sense it could be seen as pearls, a pearl necklace, but also it is also the vehicle that we learnt a lot of these Tongan words or Tongan phrases.”
Tukufakaholo combines an array of various mediums from different artists’ perspectives.
Another powerful installation is known as Tali where artist Hulita Koloi shares her encounter with survivors of Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption two years ago.
“The clothing is dipped in cement and it was originally part of a previous work that I done but I thought just that cement look or that dust really just captured what the images were that were on the TV, on the news, like just everyone covered in dust, rubble and destruction all around,” she says.
It’s a story passed on to her and one she wants to re-tell through her art on display for others to see.
“A lot of my work to do, just comes from stories, different stories, and whether that’s trauma or something, some success; I’m always just interested in making those connections with people and just trying to relay different perspectives, different stories to different audiences.”
The show opened at the Bergman gallery on Karangahape Road, it’s the Auckland branch of its namesake in the Cook Islands.
The gallery manager Benny Chan is excited to showcase more Pacific art and the people who create it.
“Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world, we have a huge and diversem colourful population of Pacific cultures here in Auckland and it’s a no-brainer to open another gallery here,” Chan says.
It’s a space dedicated to telling Pasifika stories for generations to come and certainly something Benjamin Work welcomes.
“I think it’s vital that we have spaces like Bergman gallery that emphasise Moana Pasifika art,” he says.