Vetaukula Grows Artistic Talent Behind Bars

When released, Filimoni Vetaukula plans to make a living through his art by putting to use all that he has learned at the Tagimoucia Gallery.
21 Nov 2023 11:04
Vetaukula Grows Artistic Talent Behind Bars
Fiji Corrections Service inmate Filimoni Vetaukula, with his work of art dispayed at the Tagimocia Art Gallery in Suva on November 20, 2023. Photo: Leon Lord

Filimoni Vetaukula, 39, was imprisoned in 2008, but little did he know that it would lead him to be a painter.

His paintings are now on display at the Tagimoucia Art Gallery, under the supervision of the Fiji Corrections Service.

He said the only form of art he had seen was at home in the village of Nacereyaga in Macuata, where village elders carved wood.

“I used to see them working on the lali, tanoa, and other traditional items,” Mr Vetaukula said.

“I had no idea that I had an artistic side to me.”

His journey started in 2019 when he joined an Art Programme run by the FCS.

“I was assigned to the joinery section at the Naboro Medium Corrections Centre then got selected to join the Art Programme because my artwork mostly involved woodwork, carving, and joinery,” he said.

“I was then asked by Ms Jane Ricketts, our mentor whether I wanted to proceed further and learn more. So without hesitation, I agreed.”


Even then, he said, he still was not sure of his abilities. But when he started drawing with a pencil, he realised he possessed artistic skills.

“I started to develop this and went on to oil painting from still life objects to heaps of food and flowers and it was because of her that I was able to learn and develop this newfound skill that I have,” Mr Vetaukula said.

He attributes the development of his skills to Erami Buli, who added the missing pieces.

“He made us look outside the box to realise that everything in life was art and that it was all in the mind,” Mr Vetaukula said.

Since entering the art scene four years ago, he has attended three art exhibitions.

This year will be his fourth.

When released, he plans to make a living through his art by putting to use all that he has learned at the Tagimoucia Gallery.



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