Michel Tuffery MNZM, is a New Zealand born and based artist of Samoan, Rarotongan and Ma’ohi Tahitian heritage. In 2008 Michel was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to art.
Tuffery is a passionate educator who openly shares his kauapapa and knowledge to empower youth through residencies and workshops for school-aged children in New Zealand and abroad.
Within his art practice he plays the role of working “in between” people and places, and focusing a fresh lens on environmental, community, cultural and art historical divides. Art played a crucial part in Tuffery’s childhood as he is dyslexic, so he found it as a way to communicate. “Drawing was an excuse not to write, teachers would try and get me to write by saying that if I wrote a sentence they would let me draw on the other side of the page”. Having dyslexia has not deterred Tuffery from pursuing higher education; gaining his Masters in Fine Arts (Honorary), at the School of Fine Arts, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin in 2014.
Tuffery is a multi media artist. His woodcuts, lithographs, drawings, paintings on tapa cloth and canvas, sculpture, performances and emblematic carvings are the artistic offerings of a keen historian and active participator in Pacific contemporary culture. Explaining his choice to work with many forms of media, he comments “I’m fascinated by everything I see around me. I like to have a go, interpret how I see things, because if you don’t try you’ll never know”. Tuffery describes the prolific nature of his art practice as “using the mediums that are available – I’m trying to find a way to tell stories, thinking about my own kids, and how to best tell the story to them”.
Tuffery exhibits worldwide, and is included in many private and public collections. He has undertaken research and community residencies throughout the USA, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Asia, India, Australia, The Cook Islands, Samoa and New Zealand.