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View From the Deep and the Macmillan Brown Centre Pacific Artist Residency

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Tui’s distinctive style blends traditional ngatu (Tongan tapa), umea (red earth dye) and kupesi stencils overlaid with contemporary imagery and themes painted in acrylic and Indian ink. Her work has garnered attention from not only Aotearoa’s art scene, but also the global stage. During her three-month residency Tui’s focus was a new body of work responding to climate change in the Pacific.

Throughout her time in Ōtautahi, Tui benefited from meeting and working with Pacific research students and academics through the University's Macmillan Brown Centre as well as connecting with scientists, artists, writers, and curators. She met local school and community groups and gave tapa art making workshops with her mum Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows. 

A highpoint for Tui was a trip to Kaikoura with artist Conor Clarke, going out whale watching and spending three nights under the super blue moon at Takahanga Marae. There she saw dolphins, seals, and whales up close. She experienced the heartrending reality of the fragile marine ecosystem on a fast-track to disappearing  and this manifested in her art.

Tui’s culminating body of work, View From The Deep on exhibition at Fibre Gallery features a departure from her previous two-dimensional tapa paintings, with sculptural tapa spheres swathed in ocean dwelling creatures and video works created by AI taking centre stage. Awash with vibrant colours and graphic imagery of jelly fish, snapper, tītī, seals and whales, View From The Deep is the artists “plea for us to think about where we’re going on this beautiful sphere, Planet Earth” and asks us “are we prepared to give up everything we hold dear and sacred to get there?”

Tui is the 25th recipient of the longest standing Pacific artist residency in Aotearoa.  Supported by Creative New Zealand and the University of Canterbury, the Macmillan Brown Pacific

artist in residence is committed to nurturing artists and promoting cross-cultural dialogues. Tui exemplifies the energy, innovation, and boundary-breaking approach that they seek, offering a view into her world and illuminating why she has cemented herself as an artist to watch.


Tui Emma Gillies View The Deep

Fibre Gallery, Level 1, 285 Cashel Street, until 24th May

Lydia Baxendell is Kaitiaki Kohinga Toi, Art Collections Curator at the University of Canterbury.

Installation photograph of Tui Emma Gillies’ View From The Deep, Fibre Gallery, 285 Cashel Street 8011


View From the Deep and the Macmillan Brown Centre Pacific Artist Residency

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