Michel Tuffery

Michel Tuffery is a Polynesian artist born in Wellington to a Samoan mother and Rarotongan and Tahitian father. His work speaks of Maori, Pacific and Kiwi culture and you can see he’s fascinated by everything around him. He’s also wonderfully unafraid to try his art out in any form he sees fit, including printing, painting, sculpting, installation, light and sound. You can spot a Tuffery piece a mile off and yet they feel completely different to each other in definition and design. Tim Walker, Director of The New Dowse, describes Tuffery’s work as a gift. “It illuminates the sea around him, showing us aspects of our world, our society and our lives that would otherwise remain unseen.”


Describe the most generous person you know and how they influenced you.

I have to offer these three very key people in my life: my mum and dad, and my dearest and oldest friend Jim Vivieaere (Artist, Curator, Intellectual). Jim was the consummate gentleman and host in any situation, professional or personal. His life was organic, a people collector, he simply listened and responded to the fabric of culture and society through art. His creative and conceptual thinking was well ahead of its time.


What’s happening in the world of Michel Tuffery for 2013?

A sonic year, seeing me pretty much out of the country for most of it. Before I head off again I have my annual residency at King’s College in Auckland and presently I'm finishing off a stained glass windows commission for the College's Chapel. There are several projects in Australia I'm involved with, canvassing NSW, Queensland and WA. They're community-orientated so quite layered and connecting with some fantastic people along the way. Later in the year I’m heading to Germany where I'm exhibiting in Cologne and then jumping across to a family wedding in Rarotonga. Looking forward to that. 

I also have a couple of exhibitions locally; one at Solander Works on Paper Gallery with Simon Kaan, which opens in mid-September followed closely with a show at the Blue Pacific Gallery out at Pataka Art+Museum in November, I'm quietly excited about these shows. Christmas and summertime I'm keen just to be at home in Wellies with as much diving down at South Coast (weather depending). In the mix, our daughters Coco and Tiare are both learning to surf so I’m keen to hang at the beach as much as possible regardless!


Name an everyday action that makes the world a better place, yet is underrated.

I love every aspect of living in Wellies and all it offers, often in the mix of one day. It could be a bit of rain. It could be blowing one of its infamous southerlies or simply the sun peeping out. Keeps you feeling alive and on your toes.


Tell us three things that inspire you.

  • I love books; books with pics, comics, you name it. Having grown up with dyslexia I have always strived to keep improving my reading and knowledge. 
  • Wherever I happen to be, regardless of the country, I always check out the galleries and museums. 
  • My absolute passion is free diving, which I do down at Te Raekiahau Point on Wellies’ rugged and unique South Coast. It's like going to the library for me and reading a book – a great time out.

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