Tungane Broadbent is a Cook Islands artist of international acclaim. Her phenomenal Tivaivai work was selected for the Asia Pacific Triennial, APT5, 2006/07 at the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia.
Tivaivai is a Cook Islands contemporary art form with substantial foundations. Tivaivai adopts the technique of quilting, its Pacific introduction credited to the wives of the original missionaries. In true Pacific style, the technique of quilting was appropriated and given a distinctive Pacific characteristic. Bright colours and Pacific patterns came to dominate Tivaivai, rendering it visually separate and distinct to its European quilting cousin. Cook Islands Tivaivai are used for ceremonial occasion, weddings, coming of age celebrations, funerals and other village celebrations. They have become important social statements, closely associated with the families that produce them.
Born in 1940 on the southern group Island of Mangaia, Tungane Broadbent is a living embodiment of the art form. “I grew up with it, states Broadbent, it becomes part of you “
However, the art of Tivaivai is no longer common amongst Cook Islands family traditions. A consequence of the demanding modern lifestyle and the changing role of women in the community, the labourious hand sewn Tivaivai of old are fast disappearing along with the knowledge and skills used to create them. In response, Broadbent founded the O’oa Fabric & Fibre Arts group in 2007, where a primary focus is to teach women to sew Tivaivai. Broadbent speaks passionately to this point, ‘It’s important to keep the culture of Tivaivai alive, its part of our identity as Cook Islanders’.
There is now broad international acknowledgment of textile art as a primary source of pacific cultural knowledge. In the Cook Islands, Tivaivai deliver essential social narrative and are fundamental to contemporary artistic expression.