Aute Samoa/Samoan Hibiscus-painting by our famous and renowned artist Henry Utoaluga. His paintings are up for sale. Make sure to place your order before it runs out. For more information, visit his facebook page for more information, and check out some of his works.
Yesterday I had a little tutu with pigments. If I’m honest, painting is my medium. You know that saying that goes something like, if you want to be good at something you have to practice it for a 1000 hours. Well I feel like I’ve painted for about 1000 hours but in saying that, I haven’t done much of it lately.. or at Elam at all. I won’t get into why but basically I’m pretty excited that I get to paint again. As I said here, making marks/decorating/adorning the aute is part of the “life cycle” of my aute project. To fully resolve or finish these pieces of processed aute I have to paint them. Right?
I beat these rectangles of aute last semester and at first I felt too precious about the “raw” natural condition to do anything to them. Yesterday I finally found the courage to change them– dye them and transform them. The beautiful rich red ocher is called alae in Hawaiian and actually comes from Kauai. Dante always tells me you MUST grind the pigment to the finest it can go, to make the pigment strong and almost shiny. The Māori word for this pigment is kokowai and it is basically coloured earth and comes in many different shades. The other pigment I am using is tumeric. Haha say what? My explanation is that in Hawai’i (if you look at pic#1 the pre-dyed and stamped piece of aute I made in Hawai’i is a soft yellow colour) they use ‘olena or tumeric root to dye their tapa and it is a stunning pigment to work with (as well is really healthy to eat) so I thought I would try out the powder form. The result? The root form, when grated and squeezed produces a much more satisfying result. The powder was a little, well powdery.
The next step is looking at traditional painting or mark making techniques. Did we use stamps like the Hawaiians? Were our patterns always circular koru or were they more straight edged and triangular like our pacific cousins? There are so many question that I would love to find the answers to but I probably won’t fully get to explore because of the time constraints of this Honours year. Heoi ano, I’ll still look into it and hopefully be inspired to paint like our tupuna did. Anyone with answers, feel free to email me. Please email me.