Writing Pacific artists into existence

posted: 12:00 pm - 15th February 2018
LanaLopesi Lilo 220615

The saying “we need to write ourselves into existence” often comes to mind when people ask Lana Lopesi (pictured) what inspires her work as a Pacific creative. 

“Pacific people are used to being told about what and who we are, but we have the power now to be doing that ourselves, to be telling our stories from our own perspectives,” Lana says. 

The West Auckland-based Lana is an exceptional multi-tasker, juggling several creative pursuits as well as parenting. 

“I do many things, but primarily I’m an art writer and critic,” she explains. 

She works as Editor-in-Chief of the Pantograph Punch and Editor of Design Assembly, and is also usually juggling creative and writing projects on the side.  

Writing Pacific artists into existence is her main career aspiration, she says. 

“We can’t afford to wait for someone else to do it, otherwise in 10, 20, 100 years’ time there will a whole era of Pacific art that no one remembers, because there was no one to write about it…our stories are worth telling.”  

In the 1970s, Lana’s grandparents migrated to New Zealand – her father’s parents stemming from the villages of Satapuala and Siumu in Samoa, and her mother’s parents moving here from Canada and England. 

Lana grew up in West Auckland and attended the University of Auckland, where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (honours), which was the start of her involvement in the New Zealand art scene.   

“Once I became connected with the thriving Pacific art community in Auckland and internationally, I knew it was the right career path for me,” she says. 

Lana is currently writing her first book, set to be published later this year by Bridget Williams Books, and she is also working on an exhibition of Indigenous artists as a co-curator called The Commute, which will be exhibited at the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane. 

“For some crazy reason I also thought it would be a good idea to go back to university, so am currently working on my Master’s thesis looking at how Pacific people use social media sites to build communities.” 

For Lana, joining the legacy of Pacific artists, writers and academics to help build on what they have already achieved in the art world and beyond is a real privilege. 

“I guess for me personally, I just hope to continue, expand and build on their work for generations after me.” 

While it is often hard to marry the realities of being an artist with the realities of being Pacific, people’s voices need to be heard, their stories told and their creations appreciated – they are all valued and important, she says. 

Read more HERE about Lana Lopesi and her work.