Tiapapata Arts Centre

Samoa – a residency with community workshops

I was fortunate to go on a residency last year 2012 with Tiapapata arts centre http://www.creativesamoa.com/. I was there for five weeks, learning so much, being very welcomed, my body adjusting to such a new climate, food, people. The workshops were wonderful; my first opportunity to really teach the way that I practice myself. We did blind drawing, where I gave each participant an object, which they had two minutes to explore with their hands, and then draw from memory. These haptic, non representational techniques released a lot in the participants – new mark making, looseness and bodily expression that they hadn’t experienced before. We listened to loud music, and tried to really loosen our bodies, drawing from the shoulder instead of the wrist and swinging our arms, legs and hips before busting into the drawings. We searched for a sense of fight by me giving them an object and then taking it away, asking them to fight me for it, to not want to let it go. And then a sense of release by simply letting it go. We made wonderful things…

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I wrote things, drew things, there was a cyclone coming…I want to talk about it in poetry:


Your news enters me, and in a rush

I am crying beside this woman who we are often quiet, and when I say how are you she says

I’m fucked. It’s hot.

I cry hot hard and she holds my head

You can’t see from there, but this is a moment of tenderness in days of sickness.

I am trying to be kind.

You tell me of broken bananas,, fleeing girls the trees cut, your house full of water, people, children, the generator beside the lonely rooster charging piles of phones so we can say are you ok are you ok where are you?

Does he cry a little less as they hum to him eight hours a day, and you trying to feed them all

simple meals, you say, my time to be alone is disappeared.

You say, the centre is gone, you say they sat on their roof and watched their house float, you say    she is safe, we picked her up, you say her children are with us, you say he picked up a knife.

I know the knives are long black heavy steel swingers, you say

He picked up a knife, he hit his head, you know the one you danced with, the one in yellow you say

He worked for us for thirty years, you say we had to let him go, you say

It was hard.

I was making a drawing when it started coming and the light changed

I have said the only way I can describe it is that every speck of air was made of water and every drop reflected light, light, light.

Light you wanted to, light you could touch, swallow, breathe.

I have said the only way I can describe it is that the air, was, light.

How I wanted to escape, how I ran, clumsy, how my body knew, packing slowly folding two days because I didn’t want, to not

be onto it.

You say your posts were beautiful, I followed you

And I think of wide eyes driving

all the colours I didn’t expect, didn’t pack for

I thought of green,

But you showed me orange, pink, purple, red like bravery straight out of the tube

I tried to paint they are dusty and when I tell you my stories it is with them on my fingers

I am trying to write a different story.

One where it all happens at once

You say we picked her up, you say

I am trying to feed them, you say

We love your picture

We found it a wall

I think it has enough light



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