TUI EMMA GILLIES

Falevai, Vava’u, Tonga

Latest news

Tongan (Falevai, Vava’u) / NZ Tapa Artist based in Kawakawa, Aotearoa

“The scariest and most exciting thing awaiting me right now is what will emerge from my ink-soaked paint brush the next time I press it against a piece of blank tapa cloth.”

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Mother-daughter artists bring the tradition of Tongan tapa-making to campus

“Ngatu, or Tongan tapa cloth, is made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree, soaked in water, pounded flat with ike, or wooden mallets, and dried into soft strips with a texture somewhere between fabric and paper. The pieces are then glued together with tapioca starch and painted over impressions called kupesi.”

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Tongan New Zealand kapa artists visit HoMA

“Sulieti Fieme’a Burrows and Tui Emma Gillies are a Tongan New Zealand mother-and-daughter team that make tapa cloth and are scholars of the art. Together they have presented, exhibited and held workshops around the world. On Oct. 24, they visited the Honolulu Museum of Art, to explore the Textiles and Fashion Collection’s tapa holdings.”

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Rekindling a lost Tongan art

“A mother and daughter’s efforts to rekindle the lost tradition of tapa-making in a Tongan village is being celebrated as part of this year’s women’s suffrage commemorations in New Zealand.

When Sulieti Burrows and her daughter Tui Emma Gillies visited the village of Falevai on Vava’u back in 2014, it provided an incredible opportunity.”

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What is tapa?

“In Tonga, tapa cloth is known as ngatu. It is highly valued, and used for special occasions such as wedding and funeral ceremonies. But in the past it was put to more practical use, in bed covers, mosquito netting, sheets, and room dividers.”

collections.tepapa.govt.nz/topic/2314

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