NATION

Elders Inspire Artist Malai

Originally from Burelevu from the highlands of Naitasiri, Alifereti Malai drew his inspirations from his elders. “I was brought up by my mum’s family. They were craftsman from Lau and
01 May 2015 08:27
Elders Inspire Artist Malai
Alivereti Malai with one of his paintings. Photo: Sheetal Prasad

Originally from Burelevu from the highlands of Naitasiri, Alifereti Malai drew his inspirations from his elders.

“I was brought up by my mum’s family. They were craftsman from Lau and Tonga and I lived with them,” he said.

“They built houses, weaved mats and they stencilled ‘Masi’, so that is where I got my inspiration from. I managed to be consistent, I held on strongly because back then it was not really good because we were unable to earn a good living.

“The value of art was not appreciated in Fiji before, but I held on and won some awards and got into University of the South Pacific from 2006. The university was a good break for me because I spent three years there at the Oceanic Centre for Arts and Culture doing contemporary arts.

“I came to be a sum of these visual artists and I learned from them although I am older in age, I still learned from the others. In a few years, my experience strengthened me and I won awards and I started representing Fiji.”

Mr Malai has done many pieces he sold overseas and was proud of that accomplishment.

“I have this one piece still clinging on to me; it is called the ‘I-vola vanua’, the identity or my identity,” he said.

“I first exhibited it at the Melanesian Festival of Arts in New Caledonia in 2010 and later viewed by somebody from Forum Secretariat.

“Three years ago I took it to another exhibition out on an island and the buyer who wanted to purchase it had left before the exhibition doors opened.

“So I held on to that and thought that this is mine, it is meant for me so I have kept it ever since.”

He advised all young and upcoming artists to look outside the box because art was getting better recognition in Fiji.

“Back then it was very poor so right now is a very good time to be an artist because you can make good money,” he said.

A senior artist among the many locals, Mr Malai was spotted at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa.

Driving down from Suva, the Breathe Meli Laddpeter Appeal exhibition brought him down to Denarau.

“Meli is a very good friend of mine, fellow artist from USP where we did contemporary arts together and I am here for his family,” Mr Malai said.

“The exhibition so far has been really good, the theme, the venue and the organising committee along with the artists has been great.

“I have donated a piece called ‘breath stone’, it is where we come to when we rest, when we rest, it is not that we just rest there, we look forward to getting on with life.

“It does not end here for Meli, biblically and spiritually there is life, so there is hope there.”

Feedback: sheetalp@fijisun.com.fj

 

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