Tufuga Arts Trust dreams of bigger space

11 December 2015
Tufuga Arts Trust, a creative space offering two art sessions a week in Te Puke Otara Community Centre in South Auckland, has big dreams for 2016. It wants new premises where people can drop in and make art five days a week.

Natasha Keay, Chair, Tufuga Arts TrustBut to make that happen, the trust needs to find a volunteer with the time and skills to apply for funding and help it move forward. Someone, says Natasha Keay, Chair of the trust, who is passionate about art and its role in mental wellbeing. Good communication skills are also essential.

There are seven people on the trust’s board. “We have a lot of strengths but we’re all working fulltime and struggle to find the time to seek out funding,” Natasha says.

The board’s dream is simple: it wants a creative space like Toi Ora Live Art Trust, which is based in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn. Toi Ora offers free classes across a range of artforms, and a space for people with lived experience of mental ill-health where they can be creative and socialise.

Benefits of art and creative expression

Natasha, an occupational therapist with the Counties Manukau District Health Board, says she constantly sees the benefits of art and creative expression for people who experience mental illness.

Trustee Jenny Aquilera and artist George“It grounds people, keeps them calm and helps them express themselves in a meaningful way,” she says. “We have a lot of talented artists who come here and they should have the opportunity to develop their talent.”

Fellow occupational therapist Jenny Aguilera is also on the board. Along with Colin Wallace, Jenny started up the art group in 2001. Three years later, the trust was formed.

For Jenny, it’s all about harnessing the healing power of art.  “When I come here, I see people wanting to get out of bed. I see people thinking about creative ideas. I see people developing into artists and some selling their work. And I see people enjoying the social activity.”

Gina, an artist who attends Tufuga Arts TrustMany of the 15 to 20 artists who come to the weekly sessions have been coming for a long time, she says.

Gina, for example, has been coming to Tufuga Arts Trust for two years. Earlier this year, she held her first solo exhibition with the trust’s support. Called Loyal to the Soil, it was held in the Mangere Arts Centre and featured 10 of Gina’s artworks.

“It was nerve-wracking getting it all done but I sold all ten pieces,” Gina says. “It gave me a real boost in confidence.”

Painting a release for Gina

Now, she’s working on portraits and practising painting moko. “Painting is my release. I love it. I’ve learned over time to use my art to help me heal.

“I enjoy the atmosphere here and doing my art without feeling judged.”

Paki, an artist who attends Tufuga Arts TrustPaki has also been coming to Tufuga Arts for the past two years. He enjoys being creative and seeing his talent grow.

“It’s good being in a group. It’s a positive place to come to every week,” he says.

Paki was one of the artists who participated in Lotus in Bloom, Tufuga Arts Trust’s fourth exhibition. It opened in October at the Mangere Arts Centre to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week and included mosaics, prints, and acrylic, pastel and oil paintings.

“Mangere Arts Centre is very supportive and has a beautiful space,” Natasha says. “The artists feel empowered and included, and proud that people can see their work on the walls. Many of the artworks also sold, with the artists gaining financial reward and recognition.”

If you are interested in the volunteer position at Tufuga Arts Trust, please contact Natasha Keay (E: natasha.keay@middlemore.co.nz T: 09 265 4000 ext 4087 or 021 804 963).

Tufuga Arts Trust dreams of bigger space


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