Renowned Tongan artist and designer Filipe Tohi is working on a computer programme to reproduce Tongan fine artistic patterns into a software programme.
Tohi is collaborating with his cousin, who is a computer programmer, on the project.
The software, which has yet to be released will allow people interested in the Tongan art of lalava (lashing) to learn and comprehend the ideas Tohi believes have been embedded by Tongan ancestors in the kupesi (stencil).
Lalava is the art form where sennit (kafa) are wound and tied so they can create distinct geometric patterns that are meant to indirectly portray certain images through certain stencils.
Tohi said he was working on decoding these ideas from the patterns so he and his cousin could code the software.
“This would be a great benefit for our school children as they can learn the basics of lalava and anyone who is interested could learn the basic and can advance on them with their own idea of art,” Tohi told Kaniva News.
He said the software was the third project after two major exhibitions in which he displayed his artwork.
In the first one he used stones, while the second one was based on haukafa (tied and wound sennit), haukulasi (tied and wound coloured wool) and haukamea (tied and wound iron).
Tohi created his works of art by following traditional Tongan patterns.
However, he also created his own patterns, including about 200 pule (coloured patterns) he collated into a book. He then asked the famous and chiefly Tongan artist, Tamale to give it a name.
Tohi is one of only a few Tongan artists who have learned and received advice from well versed Tongan experts on Tongan arts such as the Late Professor Futa Helu and Tamale.
Tamale is the high chief of the village of Niutoua in Tonga and was given the hereditary role of taking care of the construction of the sacred houses of the Tu’i Tonga (king) where he was able to use his expertise in tufunga langafale (house-building) and tufunga lalava (kafa sennit-lashing) to build the royal structure.
Tohi said his expertise and experience was a combination of a natural gift and research he carried out in Tonga and the Pacific in 1991-1997.
From 1982 – 1992 he was enrolled at the Rangimarie Maori Arts and Grafts Centre in New Plymouth where he studied the tā tongitongi and tā fōtunga (sculpture).
He also undertook research at various museums in New Zealand about different types of haʻi (tie) including ties used for mātaʻu (fishing hook), toki (axe), tao (spear), pōpao (canoe) and fale (house).
He taught at the Maori Centre and learned from other well known Pacific artists including studying Te Rangi Hiroa also known as Peter Henry Buck in which he has writing on art and crafts of the Cook Islands and Samoan material culture
He also studied A. M. Hocart’s book about Fijian arts.
The main points
- Renowned Tongan artist and designer Filipe Tohi is working on a computer programme to reproduce Tongan fine art patterns into a software programme.
- Tohi is collaborating with his cousin, who is a computer programmer, on the project.
- When it is ready, the software will help people understand the ideas Tohi believes have been embedded by Tongan ancestors in the kupesi (stencil).
- “This would be a great benefit for our school children as they can learn the basics of lalava and anyone who is interested could learn the basic and can advance on them with their own idea of art,” Tohi told Kaniva News.
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