Joana Monolagi, who hails from the beautiful island of Serua, has been creating Fijian arts for the last 30 years. She was born in the town of Ba and moved to Aotearoa New Zealand in 1975.
She works with indigenous material such masi (Fijian barkcloth) and magimagi and experiments with new materials available in Aotearoa New Zealand, combining the ‘old’ and the ‘new’. In 1990 she started to weave and learn to print masi. When she began experimenting with masi printing she drew on her memories of watching women in Fiji making and printing it.
Awakening is the second masi created by Joana Monolagi for Veiqia Project exhibition at The Fiji Museum in 2017.
In this work, Monolagi has depicted the tattooed back of a lady, the first instance in which she has depicted the female form on her masi. The finely stencilled geometric motifs surrounding the central illustration are created using stencils designed and cut by Monolagi. Each design represents a different idea and can be read like a visual language, talking to Fijian life and history.
Also included here are the Nai Qia (tattooing tool) and Liku (vau fibre skirt) crafted by the artist, celebrating the important ceremonial aspects of this revered Fijian art form. These were exhibited at the first Veiqia Project exhibition at ST Paul St Gallery in 2016.
Awakening : Joana Monolagi
Objectspace, 13 Rose Road, Ponsonby, Auckland
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