Putahi Rima, Papeete Tahiti- 2017
In June of 2017 myself (Stormy), Shane Andrews, and Raniera Ellison attended the 5th Putahi Indigenous Artist gathering hosted by Centre des Métiers d'art de la Polynésie française in Papeete, Tahiti. We attended as the Cook Islands Delegation, bringing with us examples of our current works.
Myself: Currently experimenting in resin casting with recycled glass with the goal of exploring ways to limit the waste left on our home island of Rarotonga. With the progression of the tourism industry in Rarotonga, along with the wasteful lifestyle we locals have fallen into, has direct effects on our our oceans and environment.
Shane Andrews: An avid Expressionist Painter and photographer. He brought with him examples of what would eventuate to be his men’s clothing line, Sabati. Sabati also focusing on quality pieces that are locally made with a focus on environmentally friendly fabrics and methods.
Raniera Ellison: An experienced Parau Carver, (Mother of Pearl) learning from whom I would place as one of the Cook Islands most talented Parau shell carvers, Tokerau Jim. Bringing with him some of his earlier carvings and an eagerness to attend the first of this type of gathering for him.
All of us attending for the simple reason of having Cook Islands representation and being more included in international gatherings such as this. In many ways we are the forgotten islands of the South Pacific. We lie somewhere between Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Tahiti.
We left Rarotonga via Air Tahiti with the assistance of the lovely staff in which we received discounted fares and luggage lenience on our way there. We all were extremely grateful as we were all self funded and don't understand the concept of traveling light.
We were the first of the delegations to arrive which was a blessing to be able to assist our hosts with the building of a semi permanent structure to house the 30+ artists on their way.
Language was thought to be a barrier at the start being that in French Polynesia everyone spoke French as their first language. But, because we shared the common language of Mahi Toi (Art) this soon became only a small issue.
Soon everyone started to arrive: Tonga, New Caledonia, Hawaii and lastly Aotearoa.
The next two weeks would allow us to share, learn, and explore all areas of creativity together. 3 exhibitions were to take place. One at the at the Winkler Gallery, another at National Museum and the final one to be held on site at the Centre.
When I try to explain to others about what happens when we attend Putahi gathering it honestly must sound pretty batshit crazy.
All concepts of time is lost and there are multiple mediums to be explored. Some of which included wood and shell carving, painting, weaving, photography, tattooing, music and story telling happening around the clock. You almost wished your body didn't need to sleep so you could absorb every single second of it.
Life time friendships were established and future collaborations are imminent. Through the magic of technology we have been able to maintain relationships with our new anau via the internet which also assist with google translate in many cases.
During our time in Tahiti, in the back of our minds both myself and Shane observed carefully at how things were run with the hopes to one day return the favour and host in our homeland.
Putahi would usually be shared between Tahiti and Aotearoa hosting. Humbly, toward the middle of our time there, we spoke briefly and decided that hosting would be something that we would like to contribute to. Little did we know we would have the great opportunity to host it in under a year. But that’s a whole other story.
*See Putahi Ono
**Photo Credit Centre des Métiers d'art de la Polynésie française Facebook page