The Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, opened the new gallery for the Tiapapata Art Centre on Saturday. The opening doubled as a celebration of 25 years since the inception of the art centre.
The Gallery is owned by Wendy Percival and her husband Galumalemana Steven Percival.
Having a gallery to exhibit arts was a vision the couple have had since 1992.
“In 1991, we started teaching art, although it was informally,” said Galumalemana.
“But the vision of building a gallery to exhibit the art work produced by not only the artists connected to the art centre but also to the students had been with us since 1992.”
And that vision has become a reality today. The couple both share a great passion for Art and that passion had contributed to the achievement they celebrated yesterday.
“Wendy comes from a family of artists,” Galumalemana said. “Her great-great grandfather was a famous American Artist who painted a number of Presidents in his days, back in the 1800’s. Her father was a painter and photographer and her mother was a very skilled ceramicist making beautiful pottery and she’s been making that for over sixty years or so.
“So Wendy has got a lot of artists in her heritage. My interest in art is greatly inspired by her passion and we are happy that we are finally able to put together an art gallery where people can come to and see the works of talented artists.”
The construction of the building took them six months to complete and the project was self-funded by the Tiapapata Centre. The Centre is a charitable trust established to promote traditional and contemporary arts and crafts in Samoa. It is now 25 years old, with the works of artists from around the world who have visited Samoa over the last 25 years now on exhibition to celebrate the milestone.
The vision of the Art centre is to become “a model art school fostering creative excellence in Samoa and the Pacific.”
It aims to provide a learning environment that facilitates the achievement of educational, professional and personal goals of students, artists in residence and teaching staff in an atmosphere that fosters creativity, diversity and innovation.
According to Galumalemana, the Tiapapata Centre is the only place in Samoa that offers classes in ceramics so there are a lot of potteries on exhibit today.
Galumalemana said the theme behind the art gallery was inspired by the Samoan Legend and proverb - “Tulituli-Matagau le Ufi a Sina,” translated as “to follow the path of Sina’s broken yam”.
“It’s the vision, steadfast and faith of Sina and her brothers and the story behind that phrase that inspired us with our vision. Sina was saved from certain starvation in Fiji by her three brothers. It was her brother Pili who had called on nature to feed his sister in Fiji and eventually the ufi or yam made the journey to Sina. Following the yam back up the valley, Sina was reunited with her brothers.
“This vision of steadfastness and having faith that your vision will be realised is I guess the message of the art centre. It has been a long term project, but it’s all coming together now.”
The art work about this legend is hanging on the front of the studio. It was carved by Galumalemana Steven Percival in 1994.
The Colors of Samoa art exhibition started yesterday as well and it will end on the 21st of May 2016.
Colors of Samoa is a reference to the threading together of different flowers to create a garland that represents unity in diversity, fragrant and visually appealing - a theme that aptly suits the colourful exhibition.
The Patron of the Art Centre is His Highness, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.