Art of Aloha.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
I live on the island of Oahu in Kailua, Hawaii, USA.
IS THIS WHERE YOU WERE BORN? IF NOT, WHAT IS YOUR ORIGIN?
I am from a small island called Moloka’i, Hawaii (nicknamed ‘The Friendly Isle’).
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE ON FLOWER AND LEI ARTISTRY?
I grew up watching my mom make leis and it was a natural thing for me to learn. My mother is an amazing lei artist too.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE YOUR FIRST LEI?
For me it is my love of nature and the Hawaiian Aina (lands). There is so much beauty that surrounds us, it was natural for me to be inspired by nature and the vibrant colours of Hawaii.
LOVE IS AT THE HEART OF POLYNESIAN TRADITIONS, BUT WHAT CONNECTS THE PACIFIC ISLANDS ACROSS THE OCEAN SO BEAUTIFULLY, IS THE FLOWER CHAIN OF THE ‘LEI’. FLORAL AND LEI ARTIST PAMAKANE LEHUA PICO SHARES THE ALOHA SPIRIT WITH US.
IS THIS A TRADITIONAL CRAFT THROUGHOUT POLYNESIA, OR HAWAII? WHERE DOES IT ORIGINATE?
Yes it is. I am a mixture of Polynesian cultures: Hawaiian, Samoan and Tahitian. These are my ‘Poly roots’, so I feel that my style is a combination of all the cultures.
WHERE OR WHO DO YOU DRAW YOUR CREATIVE INSPIRATION FROM?
IT’S A BEAUTIFUL ART FORM. WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL TO YOU, AND YOUR CLIENTS?
I feel that it’s a connection with our native land and culture that our leis have. When someone sees my leis they automatically see Hawaii in them, and the beautiful colours and exoticness of the leis draw people to them naturally.
WHAT DOES THE LEI SYMBOLISE TO YOU AND YOUR CULTURE?
The lei symbolises the Aloha spirit – the love that we have for the land and our culture. Each flower is woven carefully into a lei like a ‘mele’ (song) and represents the Aloha spirit, as well as the love we put into each lei. It’s very special to receive a lei, because it comes from the heart.
WHEN IS IT APPROPRIATE TO WEAR A LEI? ie. CELEBRATION ONLY?
I practically wear a lei everyday. There is no rule to wearing a lei, just that you love it and appreciate where it comes from.
WHERE DO YOU GATHER YOUR FLOWERS? ARE THEY LOCALLY GROWN (NATIVE)?
I try to use as many locally grown flowers as possible. I grow my own flowers to use as well.
HOW DOES A TRAVELLER LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR CRAFT?
We have a weekly class at the Four Seasons Resort at Koolina, every Thursday at 10-1pm. You can learn the art of lei Po’o making.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE ARTISAN CULTURE OR TRADITION?
I love all of the Polynesian cultures. Each region has a different style but all are similar with the tradition of leis.
DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE, TRAVELBASED EXPERIENCE TO SHARE?
I just got back from a five-week travel venture around Europe and it was amazing! The best thing was that we left our plans open as we went and it worked out so well. We went to eight countries and 17 cities in five weeks! My favourite moment was an Icelandic sunset. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s on my Instagram account.
IF YOU COULD BE WORKING ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
There is nothing like home and I am so blessed to be able to work where I do. But, if I could pick somewhere else I would say Switzerland. I was there recently and it was so amazing. Flowers were growing all over the place, which was a dream for me. It is so beautiful there.
WHERE DO WE FIND YOU?
We have a studio in Kailua but it is not open to the public. We do orders only. We have a Hibiscus Tub that can be rented out for special occasions too.
HOW DOES CULTURE, ART OR TRAVEL MAKE YOU FEEL?
Culture, art and travel make me feel alive.
“THE EARTH LAUGHS IN FLOWERS.” PAMAKANE LEHUA PICO
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT Polynesian floral traditions are celebrated at every age; Floral and lei artist Pamakane Lehua Pico outside her studio.