Tal­ent wins spot at Weta


EMERG­ING artist Aaron Unasa is shap­ing a suc­cess­ful ca­reer out of junk.

His work recre­at­ing Pa­cific Is­land ar­ti­facts from found ob­jects has won him a paid in­tern­ship at Weta Workshop – the de­sign and spe­cial ef­fects hub linked to award win­ning film maker Peter Jack­son and movies in­clud­ing King Kong and The Lord of the Rings Tril­ogy.

The 22-year-old Mt Eden res­i­dent uses an un­usual as­sort­ment of items to cre­ate works that re­flect his iden­tity as a Pa­cific Is­lan­der born in New Zealand.

One ex­am­ple is a cricket bat carved into a tra­di­tional Samoan weapon.

His work won him the Cre­ativ­ity Award at the 2013 Prime Min­is­ter’s Pa­cific Youth Awards dur­ing a cer­e­mony last night in Wellington.

The pres­ti­gious ti­tle comes with the Weta place­ment.

‘‘I’m just over the moon,’’ Mr Unasa says. ‘‘I never thought I’d get to Weta Workshop, let alone at this age.

‘‘I’m hop­ing to get into the cos­tume and ar­mour depart­ment be­cause I al­ways like work­ing with stuff that ref­er­ences the body.’’

Mr Unasa delved into the world of sculp­ture dur­ing the late stages of his de­gree at Elam School of Fine Arts.

‘‘I was ran­domly walk­ing around and go­ing through the skip and I de­cided to as­sem­ble stuff with rub­bish,’’ he says.

‘‘I’m al­ways fas­ci­nated with things I find in the rub­bish and just be­ing able to put them to­gether in dif­fer­ent ways. It’s more ex­cit­ing than sit­ting in the stu­dio and paint­ing.’’

His work has drawn praise from the arts com­mu­nity and in June he won Elam’s Best Vis­ual Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Award for his se­ries en­ti­tled Wear With Pride.

‘‘Peo­ple like the way I as­sem­ble the work, be­cause when I put the pieces to­gether I break the ma­te­rial down to its finest parts, so no­body knows what it ac­tu­ally is,’’ he says.

‘‘I think the fact that it keeps peo­ple guess­ing is what they find ex­cit­ing and just the ac­tual craft of it too.’’

Mr Unasa is also part of a large arts col­lec­tive called The Roots, which aims to in­spire and em­power young peo­ple through com­mu­nity ven­tures.

He got in­volved ear­lier this year when he was fresh out of arts school.

‘‘I’d never done much com­mu­nity work be­fore that, so it was quite a new ex­pe­ri­ence but I think it’s some­thing that you’ve just got to have fun with and try not to take too se­ri­ously or the kids won’t en­joy it,’’ Mr Unasa says.


Cul­tural twist: Award-win­ning artist Aaron Unasa holds a cricket bat carved to rep­re­sent a Samoan weapon called faala­u­fai. It is part of a se­ries look­ing at how sport has be­come a big part of the Pa­cific Is­land com­mu­nity.

Fan wear: This piece is a Cook Is­lands fan crafted from Rab­bitohs caps pur­chased at the mar­kets.

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