John Pule

John PuleJohn Puhiatau Pule is a Niuean artist, novelist and poet. He was born in 1962 in Liku, Niue, a small nation in the Pacific, and moved with his family to Auckland, New Zealand, at the age of three.

Mythology and history are of specific interest to John as he weaves fish, people and birdlike creatures into a very personal response to the colonisation of the Pacific. While his work is Pacific in subject and style he collects ideas and motifs voraciously and incorporates all into a rich network of interlacing imagery that, through its intimacy, touches on a more universal humanity.

John Pule has exhibited extensively both in New Zealand and overseas with work featured notably in Bottled Ocean 1994, at the Seventh Festival of the South Pacific, Western Samoa (1996), the Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery (1996 and 2002), In Other Words at Te Papa, Wellington (1999), Paradise Now! (2004), South Pacific Arts Festival (Western Samoa 1996, New Caledonia 2000, Palau 2004). John Pule: Hauaga (Arrivals) a major survey show of John Pule’s paintings, prints and drawings was put together by the Wellington City Gallery in 2010, and subsequently toured other New Zealand galleries.

He is an accomplished writer having published two novels The Shark That Ate the Sun (Penguin 1992) and Burn my Head in Heaven (Penguin 1998) and four books of poems: Sonnets to Van Gogh (1983), Flowers After The Sun (1984), The Bond of Time (1998), Tagata Kapakiloi (2004) and he co-wrote Hiapo: Past and present in Niuean barkcloth, a study of a traditional Niuean artform, with Australian writer and anthropologist Nicholas Thomas (2005).

John Pule has been artist-in-residence at the Cultural Museum, Rarotonga and has held the Romerapotheke Art Residency in Basel, Switzerland.  He has been the Waikato University Writer-in-Residence and received the Auckland University Literary Fellowship.  John received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2004 and in 2012 he was awarded an ONZM (Officer of the said Order) for services as an author, poet and painter in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

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In October, 2000, during a week John Pule spent in Christchurch to work on a series of lithographs at PaperGraphica Print Studio, Marian Maguire asked about the relationship between his writing and art. INTERVIEW…