My ART | Artist: Cora-Allan

What do you do?

I am of Niue and Māori descent, so this shows up in my work as a visual artist. I am a contemporary Hiapo practitioner and use whenua pigments from a Māori perspective in my work. The duality of my heritage is often seen in my use of materials that come together in an artwork with all organic materials coming together harmoniously. When I think of what I do I wouldn’t say I am an artist straight away because the layers of what my practice often come down to my space of finding connection and sharing my culture. I love finding ways to share how proud I am to be Māori and Niue; art is an amazing vehicle for that.

What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?

I would no doubt be working in a Pacific or Māori space teaching art, and art history from the lens of those spaces.

What images are pinned to your studio wall?

Last year I studied at a full immersion Te Reo Māori course, and I have pictures of my whānau from there. My pathways have opened up so much from that year of study so I have the photographs up to remind me of how lucky I am to have more knowledge of Te Ao Māori.

The first artwork that made an impact on you?

From first thought, I have always enjoyed the work of Nikki Hastings-McFall. Their use of textures and materials I have always thought are clever.

Who is your ideal studio buddy?

My dad – he is a great person to bounce ideas with and gives a straight-up answer. We travelled together for two weeks on a boat and never once got sick of each other. We are really good friends and he makes me laugh so much cos sometimes his comments are out the gate. He is a hard-working, kind and generous man who has worked as a builder for over 25 years. But his art critiques most of the time are on point.

What are you listening to?

I like listening to movies when I work and finished Yellowstone on Netflix and am currently watching The Good Doctor.

What are you reading?

A book about Ralph Hotere, it is so interesting hearing about his life and journey to being a full-time practicing artist.

An artist (living or dead) you would like to meet?

If I could spend time with any artist it would be Lisa Reihana, however, I have met her before. But if it was to meet someone for the first time, I would choose John Bevan Ford and would like to watch him paint.

What did you learn at art school?

That I would always have to work hard if I wanted people to understand the things that were important to me. I found out that many tutors could tell me about art periods from Western perspectives but couldn’t share with me enough from Te Ao Māori or Pacific content. I often felt like the subjects they knew well they could have better and more in-depth conversations about with other students. Because of this, I am currently thinking of PhD studies and will pick my university depending on the lecturers who will be supporting me through this.

If you could commission someone, anyone, to write up your work/life, who would it be?

Hana Pera Aoke and Matariki Williams.

What does (their medium: painting, photography etc.) do?

They are both wahine Māori and have amazing writing skills that share a depth of knowledge and their breadth of research that always makes you think widely about a subject and where it may belong in the world.

What is art for?

For myself, art is political. It is a way of being that I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. I make art all the time and it flows from my hands so easily most days or even sketches for new works just appear in the masses. My brain is always thinking about ideas and how to deliver them visually/experientially.

What’s next?

Studying towards my PhD is on the horizon. I can feel my brain organising thoughts and feel myself being pulled into that space the more I want to contribute and add to art history from a Pacific and Māori position.