Pacific art workshops a two-way learning chance

SIMON EDWARDS
Last updated 14:03 21/11/2012
HUTSianweb
SIMON EDWARDS
Samoa opportunity: Sian Torrington aims to soak up as much information as she gives as she runs three workshops at an arts centre near Apia.

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Hutt Valley Community Arts worker Sian Torrington says learning will be a two-way street as she leads workshops in Samoa for a month.

Ms Torrington, a drawing, sculpture and installation artist who also juggles work with HVCA and teaching at Massey University's fine arts programme, has won a scholarship from Tia Pipita Art Centre, near Apia.

She'll run three drawing workshops, for teenagers, deaf students and for the general public.

"I've never been there and I'm really excited because Pacific culture is such an important part of our culture, and what New Zealand is."

She anticipates "a very different basis for art making, with a lot more patterns used because they are traditional and have a lot of significance".

Her own method is is assemblage and collage; "I pick and choose from materials and found scraps of language and all sorts of things.

"It will be interesting to contrast that against their approach."

In researching the trip, she talked to the Fa'afafine Association here.

"They said in Samoa, your individual status is based on your place in the community whereas in Western society, we value the individual for who they are. There, it's much more about the network of where you are, who you are related to, where you come from.

"From the community arts point of veiw, I'm really interested in find out about that.

"Anything like this is a form of immersive cultural training. You don't realise how pakeha your approach is until you're not able to engage certain communities and y0u don't even know why.

"Teaching the workshiops will teach me a lot as well."

During the recent school holidays, Mr Torrington set up a theatre experience for Naenae and Taita teenagers. Run by Claire Hewitt of Playback Theatre, the 15-19-year-olds engaged in performances and activities based on their own experiences.

"So they weren't doing Shakespeare but things important to them in their own lives, for example some work based around [the story of] one of their grandmothers."

It culminated with a performance at Naenae Community Hall that Ms Torrington said was well attended and received.

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