Christina Pataialii

Studying on the Whitecliffe Foundation Certificate course was the beginning of  Fine Arts student Christina Pataialii student years at Whitecliffe. Christina attended Mt. Albert Grammar and studied towards her BA at Auckland University before the birth of her daughter and a brief time in hairdressing before applying to study at Whitecliffe. She says she was raised “in various central and western suburbs of Auckland, generally in the lower socio-economic areas. I was raised bi-culturally, Samoan and NZ European, which definitely inspired a lot of my thoughts and interests in creativity.”

Her reason for selecting Whitecliffe: “I had heard it was one of New Zealand’s top art schools by numerous people and it offered a Foundation course, which I needed to get into a BFA as I had never taken any visual arts in high school and therefore didn’t have a portfolio. I was always creative, mostly drawing. I naturally gravitated to creative areas in school, drawing, writing and music. During my Foundation Certificate course, I realized painting was my biggest drive and I knew it was what I wanted to continue with as a career path.”

Christina’s inspiration for her practice comes from “the places I grew up and the people I grew up around. A lot of my inspiration comes from my background and it drives a lot of my work in the studio. The themes I engage are mostly socio-political, socio-economics, cultural politics (particularly low socio-economics), location, relocation, dislocation, nostalgia, traces, left overs. Most of my work will be on a large scale in general- I prefer to work in this way whether I’m painting or working on an installation. I also try to integrate aspects of my cultural background while still having an awareness of much wider conversations.”

Christina has now completed both her BFA and Master of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe and of her time at Whitecliffe says, “I think what I’ve enjoyed the most about Whitecliffe is the people around me. Students and lecturers alike have been very patient and supportive of my endeavors, my ideas and my general temperamental perspectives. There is always someone around to bounce ideas off of or keep you in check when you need it.” Her final word of advice to prospective students is to “take time to understand what you are about. What motivates you or inspires you, it saves a lot of confusion when trying to find your feet during the degree.”

As for plans for the future, she hopes “to be a practicing artist! I am driven by the idea of working with others as a teacher or mentoring, ideally working with local communities. Heading overseas to experience the wider art world is definitely next.”

Christina Pataialii