Movie: Au Taa by Frank Puletua

Frank Puletua speaks about a Au Taa, an Samoan Tatau (Tattoo) Implement - which he referenced in artwork made for Body Pacifica, a collaboration between the Australian Museum, Casula Powerhouse Arts Center and several contemporary Pacific artists.

© Australian Museum and Frank Puletua
Finton Mahony
Frank Puletua
Other Contributions:
Part of the Body Pacifica exhibition at Casula Powerhouse


Hi my name is Frank Puletua. I'm Samoan background and my father is from the village of Afega in Western Samoa and my mother is from Falelatai in Western Samoa. I've always felt influenced by my own culture. But in a way, unless I've been asked to do certain pieces, I haven't really incorporated it too much in my artworks.

I use this as my inspiration because this is the tattooing instrument that they use in Samoa and I think they hammer it in somehow, like that into the skin, and I used it because I had an idea about doing a body series of six artworks showing our traditional tattoo.

It's my own design. Yeah it's just my own design and it uses traditional motifs and characters that are used in our original tattoo, but then obviously like a lot of young guys nowadays we incorporate our own patterns and stuff. Yeah, it does have a bit of a melding of the two, yeah traditional icons and motifs and new designs that we've obviously just made up.

The whole purpose of the exhibition, from what I've seen, is to you know reconnect ourselves. Even if you were born into a western culture to reconnect yourself with your homeland and that's what I've felt has been pretty important throughout all of this.
You know like myself, like I said, I felt a bit of a detachment from my heritage and doing this has reconnected me and just added a bit of knowledge from where my parents are from and where my grandparents are from and where my whole family obviously come from.

So that's probably the most important thing about it and I don't see you know it being such a big conflict between the contemporary and the traditional. I just think that's exactly where we are at, as a people, at this point in time.

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Tags finton, Puletua, samoa, tattoo, au taa, tatau, intangible, casula, body, art, ink, design,