FEU'U, Fatu

Nationality: New Zealand
Website: Website
New Zealand artist
Born in Poutasi, Western Samoa 1946
Lives and works in Auckland

I was born on the 9th of March 1946 in Poutasi, Western Samoa. My father is Feuu Tuitapa from the Tuatagaloa family of Falealili. My mother was Povalu Taulealo, granddaughter of Papalii Fonoti Fatu of the Sapapalii village of Savaii. She died in 1989 in Wellington.

The first ten years of my life were spent in the Poutasi village under the care of my mother, my grandmother, Ulavao Tutagaloa Tenari, and my godmother, Aile pata Meleisea. At this early age I spent a lot of time in the hospital. I was not allowed contact sport or even to attend school in the village for quite some time.

I used to observe the old people of the village making siapo (tapa), building canoes and houses, and weaving baskets and mats. I used to draw with sticks of white coral on black rocks, imitating patterns of tapa and tattoo, and the shapes of houses and canoes. I suppose these were my early art training. I enjoyed all these things.

My family moved to Apia for us to attend Malifa Intermediate School and then Samoa College. I found there that I really loved art, but there were no art classes at this time. I made up my mind after reading magazines on art that I would like to be an artist like Picasso, the great European painter.

In 1966 I was sent to New Zealand by my family to find work and also to see if it was possible to attend Art School. I had to work at two jobs at that time to pay the rent in New Zealand and to help my family in Samoa, so art classes were forgotten for a while. I also married in 1968 and had a family.

My art was completely forgotten for about ten years, until I met up with some New Zealand artists who encouraged me to do my own art form based on Samoan art. Then I found that Picasso was using African and Oceanic art as inspiration. I made a turn around and concentrated on Polynesian content and form. In 1986 I made my first art exhibition using mainly images and motifs from my own Samoan culture. In 1988 I left the commercial art job which I had held for the last fifteen years to pursue a career in the arts.