Toi Ako is a three-part Connect the Dots project that facilitates, promotes and celebrates the contribution our Kaumātua bring to the arts. Connect the Dots’ kaupapa focuses on social inclusion in the arts by removing barriers and improving access through co-design with our community, appropriate facilitation techniques, and removing economic and physical barriers.
Creativity provides both an opportunity for improved wellbeing, both on an individual and community level, but also gives makers a voice and a presence. Toi Ako brings together participation in the arts and the exhibition of their works.
Part I of Toi Ako is the mentoring programme, which sees our 14 Kaumātua partnered with six practising artists for ten workshops. Our Kaumātua, many of whom are living with dementia, are working with their Artist Mentor to explore and develop their own visual language and to create works for a group exhibition. Alongside this, our Artist Mentors are engaged in regular training and development workshops with our Director so that they feel well supported.
Part II sees the Kaumātua’s works travel to cities around Aotearoa in a touring exhibition, alongside works by their Artist Mentors. The exhibition will have an accompanying public programme, which will include Connect the Dots’ Make Moments programme. Make Moments is a series of art workshops and discussion tours that bring Kaumātua and people living with dementia into gallery spaces.
Part III will begin the exploration for the provision of a Make Moments programme in each town. It is our ambition to support local artists and galleries to continue to support the participation of older people in the arts and cultural opportunities in their communities.
Toi references art, but also the toi toi plant, whose tall flower offers shade and shelter for the ecosystem below, while the ecosystem feeds and nourishes the toi toi plant.
Ako speaks to the reciprocal nature of learning, where the teacher teaches the learner and the learner teaches the teacher.
As our six practising artists have shared their art skills and knowledge with their mentees, our Kaumātua have shared their outlooks and approaches informed by their wider experience of life. This exchange has stretched and humbled both mentor and mentee, and the visual arts practices of all will be informed by this relationship. Whilst our Kaumātua exhibiting in this show have no experience of art making in this space, their works individually and collectively describe the diversity in ageing and the freedom those untrained in the arts can bring to a new and blossoming practice.
Our Kaumātua are from all over Tāmaki Makaurau, from Papakura to Wiri to Mangere to Epsom to Blockhouse Bay to Henderson!
Betty Geraerts, Beverley Blewett, Colin Rowe, Cynthia Rubena, Eric Pritchard, Jean Ebsworth, Joan Turner, Josephine Shephard, Joyce Deed, Mark Devcich, Noko Marsters, Pam Sherlock, Puasau Isaia and Repeka Tuliau
Our Artist Mentors are all trained and practising artists with experience of teaching visual arts.
Eimi Tamua, Linda Roche, Lucie Blazevska, Toni Mosley, Yukari Kaihori, Zoe Nash
The exhibition will begin in Tāmaki Makaurau in March 2020, and then travel to these cities. We will update the dates as they are confirmed.
Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland - Papakura Art Gallery, 7 March – 18 April 2020
Te Whanganui-a-Tara / Wellington - Bowen House Wellington, June 2020
Ōtepoti / Dunedin - Dunedin Community Gallery, August 2020
Heretaunga / Hastings - Hastings City Art Gallery (tbc)
Whakatū / Nelson - Refinery Artspace Nelson (tbc)
Thank you! There really is no end to the ways you can support this project! Unfortunately we have a way to go before there is meaningful levels of funding available for creative ageing projects like ours, so every little bit helps – money, materials, time!