Whitecliffe Educated: The Student Experience

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Whitecliffe Educated: The Student Experience

This month, we hear from current BFA student Jaimie Waititi:

Year Four Fine Arts student Jaimie Waititi comes from Waihau Bay, a small ocean side town on the East Coast of the Bay of Plenty, where the movie ‘Boy’ was filmed. Jaimie moved to Auckland and attended Onehunga High School. Commenting on possible career directions she says, “I remember starting high school wanting to play rugby. Then I dreamed of becoming an architect. In Year Twelve at high school, I wanted to be a photographer, but painting was what I really loved.” Jaimie was introduced to Whitecliffe by her teachers at high school and was encouraged to visit the Open Day. Along with a good recommendation from a friend already attending the school, she decided to begin her studies at Whitecliffe. Now in her final year, Jaimie feels that she is exactly where she should be.

Jaimie’s current painting practice concentrates on the politics of art-making surrounding the ideas of collaboration, ownership of intellectual property and the value of both mental and manual labour. It is currently installation-based with both two-dimensional and three-dimensional aspects. This year, Jaimie has directed her practice towards creating spatial environments that evoke a sense of play and comfort. “As much as I like to challenge the viewer I want them to absorb the space and let the space take a hold on them. I want to give them the opportunity to relax in a gallery setting.”

Another aspect of Jaimie’s creativity and skills is her budding curatorial practice. “I hope to one day own a gallery that will offer a space that emerging artists can connect with the public on their terms” she says. Having already curated three exhibitions while studying at Whitecliffe, Jaimie has come to the conclusion that this is the direction she wants to take following her graduation at the end of 2014. An early example of her curation is the art exhibition she curated entitled Dig My Soul in 2011. Taking her back to the area where she grew up, Jaimie was involved in protests against plans for deep-sea oil drilling in the Raukumara Basin. The protests took place at nearby Whangaparaoa beach and Jaimie wanted to raise awareness of the issue and the potential environmental disaster the area could face. The Dig My Soul exhibition was installed at a space in the CBD of Auckland and included works by Whitecliffe students and faculty.

Jaimie’s main challenge is being able to communicate her ideas fluently, which is something an art student can grasp with practice and attention to detail. Her advice to prospective and fellow students is “Creativity, making, thinking, writing, business, communication, consideration. All are as equally important as the other; creativity is using your all and being prepared to put everything on the chopping board. Jaimie’s attitude of always striving for excellence in her practice meant easing up on her social life, which she says is one of the hardest things she’s had to do. “My friends and family are incredibly important to me and they have supported me every step of the way in my education and achievements. They are my motivation. All these late nights and hard work have paid off in order to achieve my goals, in the hope that one day I can give back to my family for all their contributions.” Throughout all this, the most enjoyable thing about Whitecliffe for Jaimie has been her experience. “Over the four years you build a community with fellow students and lecturers. The beauty of being here is that one day, we will be the artists of New Zealand, and we will be the people that others look up to. We need to give them something worth looking at.”

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