Sheyne Tuffery

Sheyne received a Bachelor of Visual Arts from AUT in 1995 and his Masters of Fine Arts (honours) in 2000 from The University of Auckland. Since graduating, Sheyne has received a number of awards, residencies and commissions. His works are held in many public collections in Christchurch, Auckland, Washington DC, Michigan and Bethlehem. Sheyne also notably founded and directed LeSa Gallery in Petone from 2007 and 2012, an important dealer gallery for Pacific artists. Based in Wellington, Sheyne is a multi-media visual artist whoseprimary mediums are painting, animation and printmaking.
Perhaps best known for the dynamic style of his prints and woodcuts, Sheyne describes himself as a paper architect who uses his work to create and represent his own cultural context and sense of belonging. His prints and paintings often envisage Polynesia as a futuristic urban utopia. In these re-imaginings, the Samoan fale acts as the symbolic archetype for skyscrapers and apartment housing while the vaka stands in for rocket ships. These works reflect Sheyne’s research into his Samoan heritage and symbolism, his travel wanderlust and his taste for big overseas cities. They also reveal ongoing influences, such as the world of fantasy, comics, and cartoons, which add a sense of immediacy and humour to his subject matter.
While a substantial amount of his own energy has gone into researching and conceiving the contemporary significance of the fale and the vaka, Sheyne now adds ornithology (birdlife) to his inquiry and visual lexicon. Sheyne became aware of Manukau’s bird population and local bird lore while living there in 2005. The following year, Sheyne was awarded an artist residency at the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, Christchurch, where he spent time looking at the ancient birds of New Zealand and Samoa. The works in his 2006 solo exhibition Misplaced Effigies featured giant palaeo-penguins and the mythical moa roaming alongside classic car models.  In addition to his fascination with New Zealand’s geological history as a natural sanctuary for a vast array of bird species, Sheyne also draws on his own associations to Samoa. Looking for manumea is a series of woodblock relief prints that focussed on manumea, a large tooth-billed pigeon found only in Samoa.

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