Artist Spotlight

Introducing Bonita Bigham

Mahi toi, or art-making has become an integral and crucial aspect of my life over the past 15 years and it has literally saved my life. I spent too much of my adult life trying to be someone I wasn’t, working in jobs I didn’t enjoy and resisting the urge to create because I wasn’t an “artist.” It took a breakdown in my 30s to come back to art as rongoa (remedy, medicine).

When I’m not weaving or cutting or sculpting, my other passion is creating opportunities for other artists to meet, create, collaborate and exhibit. I’m a founding member of Toi o Taranaki Ki Te Tonga, a South Taranaki Māori arts collective which is now in its second year of existence, presenting our third exhibition with a fourth already scheduled.

Last year I graduated from Massey’s Master of Fine Arts programme and am currently studying raranga (weaving) on Te Wānanga o Aotearoa’s Toi Paematua: Diploma in Māori and Indigenous Art. I’m also doing another Masters in Māori Visual Arts, again through Massey University and aim to move to doctoral study with a further arts focus in the near future.