Tanya Faiva: a good eye for colour
A vibrant mix of colours and textures interact with each other on the canvases of Tanya Faiva, a Dunedin artist who has been attending Studio2 since 2005.
Tanya is one of five artists participating in the national I’m an Artist Campaign happening in Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington.
Arts Access Aotearoa is organising the poster campaign with funding from the Making A Difference Fund. It aims to change attitudes and behaviour towards people with a disability, sensory impairment or lived experience of mental ill-health.
It also promotes disabled people and those with lived experience of mental ill-health as artists who make great art.
Another aim of the campaign is to promote the value of community-based creative spaces such as Studio2, Artsenta and Art Space in Dunedin.
Tanya says the support of Studio2 and its Margaret Freeman Gallery in Moray Place has been invaluable. “I wouldn’t be able to make my art if it wasn’t for the facilitators there. They always so helpful and do what I ask – even if it means mixing a colour again and again until I get the right shade.”
Samantha McKegg, one of the studio’s two programme facilitators, works with Tanya every Friday. She says Tanya has a flair for abstract art. “She loves playing with different textures, often using balls of impasto gel to make her paintings three-dimensional.”
Experimenting with colour
Tanya says she also likes to experiment with colours. “When I start a painting, I choose a colour and then think about what I’ll do with it. I have a good eye for colour, and I love experimenting and combining different colours. I don’t like putting pink with red or anything like that. They don’t go together, in my opinion.”
When Tanya was 14, she learned that she had Friedreich's ataxia, an inherited condition that causes progressive damage to the nervous system. The condition means that the physical aspect of painting is a challenge.
“Painting is hard work for me but I love doing it because I’m creating things people like – and that makes me feel good,” she says.
“I started using paint when I came to Studio2. As a child, I always drew but I can’t do that anymore because of my co-ordination. That’s why I like doing abstract work.”
Distinctive and popular
Samantha says Tanya’s work is popular because of its distinctive style. “She has spent years fine-tuning her technique and has found something unique that really works for her. She gets a lot of commissions and friends asking her to make something for them.”
Tanya is modest when it comes to her artwork. “I just do it because other people like what I do – it’s not all about me,” she says.
“One time someone came in off the street because she loved my paintings that were on exhibition. She commissioned me to make a work to match a colour she brought in to show me. I made the work but added colours that I thought would work and gave it a black border. She loved the end result and that made me happy. That’s why I do it – not for the money or anything like that.”
Tanya has had numerous solo and group shows at Studio2. She also had work in two national exhibitions of art from creative spaces, presented by Arts Access Aotearoa.
And now, her exhibition at Studio2 and its Margaret Freeman Gallery will run from Monday 13 October to Friday 7 November. In addition, the Information Centre at the Botanic Gardens will feature a display of Tanya’s artwork, also until 7 November.
About Studio2 and the Margaret Freeman Gallery
Studio 2 and its Margaret Freeman Gallery is an arm of a larger organisation, Connections Education and Development Trust, which provides a range of services for disabled people. An art studio and exhibition space for disabled artists, its activities include writing, painting, drawing and sculpture. One of its aims is to encourage its artists to work independently and help them promote their work to the wider community.Visit Studio2 website.