Whitecliffe Educated: The Student Experience

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Whitecliffe Educated: The Student Experience

Melody Jazz Aliivaine Makavani is currently in the midst of her Year 3 studies on the Whitecliffe BFA Photo Media programme. Melody chose to study photography “because I love being able to connect with different people and creating interesting content for my photographic work, installations and photo zines.”

She grew up with her Niuean family in the tight-knit community of Glendene, West Auckland and attended St. Dominic’s College in Henderson. “When I was a kid, I always used to take photos at family functions for fun, but I got more into it when I started high school. High school really showed me the different ways and types of photography. I think in my last year at St. Dominic’s, I found what my style of photography was. I decided to then apply and come to Whitecliffe, as it is a small campus and there seemed to be a sense of community. I also chose Whitecliffe because I thought the type of art I made suited the variety of studies on offer at uni.”

What Melody is enjoying most about studying at Whitecliffe are the lecturers, open-ended briefs, meeting new people and making long-time friends. “I loved my first year of uni because it wasn’t just one subject you stuck to. You were able to explore all of the majors before you narrowed it down to your major of choice, which I liked a lot. This year has been more challenging, but in a good way. The briefs are more focused on one specific area of our photographic studies. There is also more research work involved. I am enjoying talking through ideas with my lecturers; they have helped me become more comfortable with expressing my ideas and talking about my practice.”

“Eccentric people and subcultures, such as youth, skateboarders and goths, keep me inspired and motivated. I am always looking at fashion magazines & zines and watching films. For my photography, I like to show my interest in these groups, interpret and manipulate these subjects into bold colours and weird body forms. I draw illustrations of aliens with stories connecting to real life events. I also make limited-edition zines, photo zines and stickers with my sister Zanalee Makavani a.k.a. #BUFFBOIZ. We participate in the annual Auckland Zine Fest at Auckland Art Gallery and create new zines each year. At the moment, I’m working on a zine to do with friendship and skateboarding for uni. But, I also like to work with sound and moving image too.”

In the next five-ten years, Melody hopes to be working and collaborating with other artists on various projects, as well as teach students about photography. Her advice for incoming art students is to “find what you like and don’t make art for anyone else. Make it for yourself.” 

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