Renowned artist Filipe Tohi works to translate Tongan art into computer software

     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.

    For more information

    Filipe Tohi’s official website

    Filipe Tohi at the 2008 Pacific Arts Festival (TV3 Beat street)

    1 COMMENT

    1. ʻOku lolotonga ngāue ʻa e tangata Tonga ʻiloa he tufunga lalavá mo e tufunga tā tongitongi ko Filipe Tohi ki ha polokalama fakakomipiuta ʻe lava ke ne fatu ha tatau ʻo e ngaahi sīpinga kupesi ʻaati faka-Tongá.

      ʻOku ngāue ʻa Tohi ki heni mo hono kāsini ko e tokotaha faʻu polokalama fakakomipiuta.

      Ko e sōfeá ni ʻa ia ʻoku teʻeki ke tuku ange mai ki tuʻa ʻe lava ke ne fakafaingamālieʻi ʻa kinautolu ʻoku manako ki he ʻaati faka-Tonga ʻo e lalavá ke nau akoʻi mo mahino kia kinautolu ʻa e ngaahi fakakaukau ʻoku tui ʻa Tohi ne tukufūfū ʻe he kau tufunga lalava ʻo e kuohilí ʻi he ngaahi kupesí.

      ʻOku lolotonga ngāue ai ʻa Tohi ke fakaʻuhingaʻi ʻa e ngaahi fakakaukau ko iá mei he ngaahi sīpingá kae lava ke na fakahū fakamataʻitohi fakakomipiuta ia ki ha software.

      Ne ne pehē ki he Ongoongo ʻa e Kanivá ko ha fuʻufuʻunga lelei ʻeni ki he fānau akó he ʻe lava ke nau ako heni ki he ngaahi tefitoʻi ʻuhinga ʻo e lalavá pea ka ʻi ai ha taha ʻoku manako ki he faʻahinga ʻaatí ni ʻe lava ke ne fakalahilahi ʻene kató mei he polokalamá ni ke faoʻi atu ʻaki ʻene fakakaukau fakaātí.

      Ne ne pehē foki ko e software ko ʻení ko ʻene polōseki ia hono tolu hili haʻane ongo fakaʻaliʻali lalahi ʻe ua ne ne fakahāhā ai ʻene ngaahi ngāué.

      ʻI heʻene ʻuluaki fakaʻaliʻalí ne ne fakahāhā ai ʻene ngaahi ʻaati ne fatu mei he maká pea ko e uá ne ne fakaʻaliʻali ai ʻene ngāue fakaʻaati ne fatu ʻo fakatefito he haukafá, haukulasí mo e haukameá.

      ʻOku tefito ʻene ngaahi ʻaatí he ngaahi sīpinga tuku fakaholo faka-Tongá. Ka ʻi he taimi tatau ʻokú ne toe faʻu pe ʻe ia ʻene ngaahi pule kupesi ʻo kau ai ʻa e pule foʻou ʻe 200 ne ne faʻu ʻo pulusi ʻi haʻane tohi. Ne ne kole leva ki he taha e kau tufunga lalava ʻiloa ka ko e ʻeiki ʻi Tonga ko Tamale ke ne fakahingoa e tohí ni.

      Ko e taha ʻa Tohi ʻi he kau ʻātisi Tonga ʻoku kei toetoe mai ka naʻa nau ako mo maʻu faleʻi mei he kau mataotao mo ʻiloʻilo Tonga he malaʻe ʻo e tufunga lalava mo haukafá ʻo hangē ko Palōfesa Futa Helu mo Tamalé.

      Ne pehē foki ʻe tohi ko ʻene pōtoʻí mo ʻene taukeí ko ha fefiohi ia ʻo ha meʻaʻofa fakanatula mo ʻene ngaahi fakatotolo pe ʻana ne fai ʻi Tonga mo e Pasifikí mei he 1991 – 1997.

      ʻI he 1982 – 1992 ne ne hū ai ʻo ako ʻi he ʻapi ako ʻāati ʻa e kau Maulí ko e Rangimarie Maori Arts and Grafts Centre ʻi New Plymouth ʻo ne ako ai ʻa e tā tongitongí mo e tā fōtungá.

      Ne ne toe fai foki mo ha fakatotolo ʻi he ngaahi misiume kehekehe ʻi Nuʻu Silá ni kau ki he ngaahi fōtunga kehekehe mo e anga hono fai ʻo e haʻi ʻi hono ngāueʻaki ki he mātaʻú, tokí, pōpaó mo e falé.

      Naʻá ne toe faiako foki ʻi he Senitā ʻAati ʻa e kau Maulí mo ako he kau ʻatisi ʻiloa he Pasifikí kau ai ʻa Te Rangi Hiroa ʻo Nuʻu Silá mo ʻene tohi ki he ʻaati ʻa e kau Kuki ʻAilaní mo e kau Haʻamoá.

      Ne ne toe ako foki ki he ʻaati ʻa e kau Fisi ʻi he fakatotolo ʻa e tokotaha ko A.M. Hocart.

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