Nicole | Ōtara

“My name is Nicole, and I’m from here in Ōtara, and I’ve just moved here from Gisborne. I used to live down in Gisborne. So, I moved up here because I wanted to chase my passion as an artist.

I work at Subway, and it’s really good, actually. I’m thinking about studying because I’m still helping out my family financially, so I work and do my thing at home. I sell my artwork online, and I’m thinking about being a tattooist.  In a couple of months, I might get a pop-up exhibition. 

I wasn’t really good at school, but art has been always in the way, so for me having that feeling like in how far I came, and I’ve never given up on what I actually wanted to become. So, now it’s slowly coming together for me. So when I was little, I used to do a lot of Polynesian patterns, because I’m Samoan. After I see a pattern, that I just wanted to draw, I wanted to know how it started and what it is, because in my culture each pattern has its own meaning. So from there, it developed, and I like listening to music, and people telling me stories about themselves, it’s inspired me. It helps me to get away from reality, actually. When I paint, I feel free, it helps me to get through things. I have struggles sometimes, and I think art has been always been there for me. Like, it tells a story about me. 

I think nowadays there’s a lot going on with teenage suicide and all that, but I know that there’s like a lot of talent in them, so maybe art can change how they think about life. During tough times, I draw. So sometimes you can’t really talk to people about how you feel, because they would never understand you, but you can draw it out, or just paint it out. With art, when you put it out there, people don’t have to understand it. Like, you yourself relate to it. It tells about you, or what’s going on with your life, and for me, it opened up things that you don’t know how to say. It doesn’t have any limits. Like with art, there are no rules. You can just break free.

So, I was born in Samoa. I grew up in the small island of Savaii, from the village of Matavai, and I went schooling there. Just moved here around 2014, after I think about my first year in uni. I just moved here, and because there’s not really many opportunities, we just moved here and went schooling here. I mean, I took a course, actually and I do make-up as well. My family, they’re half-Samoan. So, my dad is full Samoan, and my mum, she had like part Niuean and Irish in her. So growing up, my mum has always been there for us. I’ve seen her struggle a lot, and I’ve seen her going through things by herself. My dad was there, but not mentally, sometimes. She’s been there during schools, she’s so supportive, and I just wanted to give it back to her while I can.”

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