The work of Dr Rhee, who was a visual arts Lecturer at FNU in the early 2000's which was part of the Ratu Iloilo Gallery re -opening at FNU
It’s taken me the better half of 15 years to get to a point in my career where I’m passionate about the work I’m doing and what pray tell is that, you may ask?
I’m helping develop the creative industry in Fiji and how exactly am I doing that?
Well I’m sitting down with creative individuals and groups and trying to help them (I’m a firm believer in individuals telling their stories in their own words) capture their story or journey and it’s not easy thing to do.
I consider myself a closet artist or creative, I feed off the energy of creative souls and in the Pacific we are a messy colourful blob of Pacific creative goo that is trying to take shape in this contemporary time.
And a part of that wonderful messy kaleidoscope of colourful Pacific creative goo is starting to take shape here in Fiji.
How? It’s happening in little miniscule ways…..but it’s so magical it’s a truly a sight to witness.
From the monthly poetry slams organised by Peter Sipeli, which is no small task because this platform is helping our young story tellers put to words of what they’re witnessing and experiencing in the Pacific, to the music and dance schools available such a VOU Dance School, Rako Pasefika, the Oceania Centre and most recently InTune Music Performance Academy. These dance schools are touring the world and they’re also facilitating dance residencies for instance VOU in 2014 their dancer Eleni Tabua was the first iTaukei dancer to be awarded the Indigenous Dance Residency at the Banff Arts Center in Canada and Aren Baoa of Rako Pasefika did his dance residency in Canada as well.
Fashion campaign shot and styled by Faraz Ali and Ilai Jikoiono (Model: Caroline Gatu /Location: Palm Court)
Let’s not forget the nascent fashion industry in Fiji, YES! Don’t roll your eyes, these fashion designers are some of the most artistic souls I know, Anton Conway Wye has opened up his studio with Michael Mausio called ‘Golden Threads. Contemporary masi designer Epeli Tuibeqa along with other fashion designers just showed at LA Fashion Week. Letila Mitchell of RakoDesigns is sometimes seen walking around her studio carrying swatches of hand dip dyed prints while she’s patiently training her dancers. Moira Solvalu Johns now stocks at Laucala Island and she just launched her kids wear at MHCC.
While we’re still on fashion, our stylists and fashion bloggers and writers are forging new paths in this time and particularly when we Fijians are still unclear about what fashion bloggers even do. Fashion Throne Fiji are both travel and fashion bloggers as well as stylists. Mario Basilio our resident social media butterfly has catapulted to stardom with his Digicel ad #SoSad and of course the fabulous powerhouse duo Fuzz&Ilai who shook the fashion industry with their raw interpretation and style of fashion trends in Fiji with the debut of the magazine Mai LifeStyle Fiji and the Pacific. The duo are now set to launch their own magazine ‘Revolution.
At the opening of the Ratu Iloilovatu Gallery
But let’s not stop there, FNU this year has re – opened the Ratu Iloilovatu Gallery. I attended this launch and it’s a move in the right direction. I had the pleasure of enjoying pencil sketches to poignant black and white photos lovingly dug up from the National Archives of Fiji of FNU in the 40’s. We have an abundance of untapped history sitting in the vaults at the National Archives of Fiji and I’m saluting Peter Sipeli of FNU for using the Ratu Iloilovatu Gallery to bring our rich history of black and white images to life.
One of the first prints of the 10/10 Exhibition opening soon (Pic by: Peter Sipeli)
USP is also a hub of our Pacific island brothers and sisters who come to share their stories and culture as well and you see this is evident with the Oceania Arts Centre, their art, dance and music speaks for itself.
Though this is happening, we still have a long way to go with artists getting paid their dues. In my opinion it’s a simple fact: there is a lack of art appreciation in Fiji. We need to cultivate an attitude of art appreciation and that can only happen with more creative platforms being made available for people to access and participate in or to simply enjoy.
So while we may be moulding that wonderful Pacific creative icky goo, the shape is still uncertain because that’s the beautiful thing about creative and artistic energy it has no mould, its organic and it grows in whichever direction it happens to splat to because we are still trying to tell our story.