Vanya is an artist, educator, art gallery owner and director. She was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and moved to Samoa with her Samoan husband to live in 1976. Samoa has been ‘home’ now for thirty seven years. During her first twelve years in Samoa she established a kindergarten and a private primary and secondary school and in 2011 she established a private art gallery on her property at Siusega.
In the early 1990’s her family took six years study leave in Sydney where she completed a Masters in Fine Arts at the Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. Vanya completed her doctorate in Fine Arts in 2006 through distance mode at the University of Newcastle in Australia. “Fetaia’i i Gafa we shall meet in our children, an Investigation into Contemporary Samoan Art.” Her exhibition is her personal journey and follows the merging of two very diverse and rich cultures; her Anglo-Celtic heritage and her husband’s Samoan gafa, which is manifest in her children.
Over the years Vanya has exhibited in New Zealand, Australia and Germany and she has published articles pertaining to her work and that of other Samoan artists. Her works explore themes relating to the society in which she lives, the myths, cultural practices, issues relating to identity, family and the environment, natural disasters and climate change.
Recent series have included, Togo Samoa a major body of work inspired by the mangroves of Samoa, The mangroves forests have been used to address issues relating to Climate Change. Taule’alo is gravely concerned about the environment and see mangroves as one of our most vulnerable, fragile and at risk ecosystems, yet they are one of our most important environments. With the increasing numbers of tropical storms and extreme global events such as tsunamis the mangroves are a vital protective buffer between the land and the ocean. They also play a critical role in the life cycle of many species, providing nursery and permanent homes for a wide range of Samoan fauna and flora; some common others threatened or endangered. Another body of work Nua Nua explored the Tsunami in Samoa in 2009. For this exhibition her work focused on rebuilding and replenishing our resources after a natural disaster.
Between 1997 and 2008 Vanya was a senior lecturer at the National University of Samoa, attached to the Faculty of Education focusing mainly in Visual Arts. She was the advisor and major writer for the Visual Arts Curriculum, which was introduced into select secondary schools in 2005. She wrote the Year 12 PSSC Visual Arts Prescription for SPBEA and continues to work with art teachers and educators. Working as an Art Therapist for troubled American boys in Samoa allows Taule’alo to continue teaching, which she enjoys.
Since June 2008 Vanya has become a full time artist and gallery director. In February 2011 she opened The Vanya Taule'alo Gallery at her home in Siusega, Samoa. The gallery holds regular exhibitions mainly of well-known and established Pacific artists. Vanya dreams of making contemporary Pacific art accepted in Samoa as currently Samoa has a very limited appreciation of the arts. She also hopes to motivate young artists to commit to creating art and holding exhibitions in the gallery.
Cover Image: Spirits of the Forest <click on thumbnail for full view>