An animated opportunity

By Dionne Christian

Manurewa High School students are going 3D thanks to a joint partnership with Te Tuhi Gallery in Pakuranga
Future Animators is an excellent example of how a school and gallery can work together. Artwork by Natanahira Tuiasau-Makoare
Future Animators is an excellent example of how a school and gallery can work together. Artwork by Natanahira Tuiasau-Makoare

In the 3D animation class at Manurewa High School, Year 12 and 13 students are thinking about the future.

How might houses inspired by the architecture of Thailand be designed for New Zealand conditions?

How might the marae of the future look and best serve their communities?

What games would kids like to play in five or so years?

If global warming decimates the human population, what creatures might arise to take our place?

Taught by established artist and digital visual arts teacher Rangituhia Hollis, this is the only 3D animation class offered at a New Zealand secondary school and Hollis is determined his students get real-world experience now.

So, when he was commissioned to produce an animation work for one of the most ambitious shows at Te Tuhi Gallery in Pakuranga, east Auckland, he asked some of his students to assist.

AJ Shirley, Natanahira Tuiasau-Makoare and Smey Chhean worked as animation assistants on Oko Ake.

The three-channel video work included five acts and spanned a 14m section of wall at Te Tuhi. Music teacher Shannon Coulomb helped with the soundtrack.

It was part of an exhibition called The Hive the Hums, described by Herald arts writer TJ McNamara as impressive and varied.

"This exhibition, curated by Bruce E. Phillips, does exactly what a public gallery should. It enables artists to show large works and installations and the result here is a group of singularly powerful works in a range of media," he wrote.

The opportunity extends the Future Animators programme, a partnership between Manurewa High School and Te Tuhi that started around three years ago.

Students taking part in the one-year programme get the chance to develop their skills and then have their work exhibited in a show at the gallery.

"It shows them that there's not a great degree of difference between themselves and practising artists already working in this field," says Hollis.

"It's about providing an opportunity to get out into the world."

Using Blender (an open-source animation tool), Aftereffects and Photoshop on their projects, they research, develop and refine a digital animation shot and have complete conceptual freedom.

Work in previous exhibitions has included visual narratives from architecture, urban design, fictional narratives, profiles of video games and other aspects of popular culture.

Future Animators started after a conversation between Hollis and Te Tuhi's senior curator, Phillips.

It's been greatly helped by the fact Te Tuhi's education manager Jeremy Leatinu'u, who's helped keep it on track, is also an artist and former Manurewa High School student.

Leatinu'u agrees Future Animators is an excellent example of how a school and gallery can work together and says it's greatly enhanced by having a teacher, like Hollis, who already works with this kind of technology.

- NZ Herald

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