All posts by Maureen Unasa

Maureen Unasa is a contrarian Samoan woman unravelling life, love and culture through the art of Samoan weaving

Doing what works

Wishing I was in the presence of the older generations of experience to hand skills down as practised in the old days.  Knowledge and skills passed down through the years was how things were taught.    The Mango’s Kiss by Albert Wendt brought it home for me.  Through this way of teaching you instantaneously inherit core values like respect, patience, discipline, love and commitment. (And all the others I won’t rattle on about)

Figuring it out myself
Figuring it out myself

Aunts, mothers and grandmothers teaching the skilful art of weaving to young girls from an early age.  Uncles, fathers and grandfathers teaching young men what it is to provide and maintain a working family unit.  Everyone has a role.  Everyone knows their role.  Everyone understands it’s importance.  Even if you don’t understand, it is done.  Simply, because it needs to be done.  Doing what needs to be done because it works.

My current world requires that sometimes, I just gotta figure it out for myself.

Figuring it out for myself means that sometimes I feel like a fraud as in my last post.  I know in my heart I am not one.  Creating from my own imagination with the skills and knowledge acquired so far.  It has not been handed down to me.  The few workshops I have attended to weave a mini mat has been my only hands on teaching.  Google, you tube and books have primarily handed down to me everything else.  This appears to be the modern practise of teaching yourself.  It doesn’t hand down the core values.  (Usually hands down curse words)

My concerns for raising my children in this modern world weaves its way into my creations.  This modern world of information and technology has almost sealed the fate of values and traditions.  Flashing lights and big money no longer resides in the big far away reach of the city.  It’s in my face.  It’s in my children’s face.  Screen technology teaches and hands down whatever it wants you to digest.  Conforms thinking.  Skews reality.  Creates confusion.  Values optional.

Does there need to be a cost for progress?

Doing what needs to be done in your role because it works OR free thinking and freedom of speech because it’s your God given right to have it.  Objections, protesting, unfairness, inequality, legal proceedings, precedents, wars, constantly fighting all day every day.  For what?

How about your only God given right is to breathe and be grateful for that.  The end.

If things are simply done because it WORKS then why chase, change or create.  Because our species are compelled to FIX SH!* THAT AINT BROKE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Driven by ego.
Recognition’s well is dry.
Acknowledgement’s thirsty.
I want to be GOD!
Let’s play.

Seriously.  House of sticks under a coconut tree.  Let’s weave.

Fraudster Alert!

Yesterdays creation 13/02/13
Yesterdays creation 13/02/13

Doubting myself and the skill of my hands is like spiralling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. Never read the book but I watched Australian MKR.  The Tasmanian contestants used the “Wonderland” theme and I was starting to feel like them in their kitchen. I didn’t want to cry though because according to the mother and daughter beauty queens team, “Crying is a sign of weakness”. Makes me want to slap the daughter and see if I can produce some tears.

Ooops pardon me. This is not a post about “My Kitchen Rules”.

Feedback in Samoa (ok just my family lol) on my little weaving creations were very humbling (cue outward humility while doing my jig and waving hands in the air in my mind). Yeah, I do “humble” really well on the outside.

My family were “astounded” I say, at how I could weave. I didn’t know whether to be offended at first. They were baffled at how I could weave when I don’t live in Samoa.  Secondly, how could I  possibly weave with something as delicate as curling ribbon. (Well you know, I’m just awesome)

(Cue professional sounding expert) I shared my story with them.  The kids school project and learning from a master weaver to create what is now dubbed as “The Golden Mat”. (oooo I love that) Explained the intricacies of working with ribbon and the satisfaction it brings me to create cultural art with contemporary materials. (Can’t remember what made up Samoan words I used)

Ooooo’s, ahhhhh’s and Samoan wow’s (oka oka ia oe, ese lou poto – wow to you, you are so clever). Yeah tell me about it, I non-humbly say in my head.  At least it wasn’t the other kind of  “WOW” I got from my uncles with the added handspans making me out the size of a whale.

Cute little pink gift bag prototype.
Cute little pink gift bag prototype.

Seeking some serious weaving tutorials from my family of weaving experts kind of didn’t really happen except the one time I was taught how to make a pola (Samoan blind and when pola’s are attached together they work like roman blinds).

Tables turned, I showed one family member how to make flowers and lilies so she can bust out her awesomeness when it’s her turn to decorate the church. I showed mum how to make fancy lolly lei’s (ula lole) and left her some arrangements she can unravel in her own time. I have verbal contracts (lol) to supply SWHQ bling for a souvenir shop that my aunty is going to incorporate (undoubtedly the most relaxation I ever got) at Sevemanaia Beach Fale’s in Savai’i (that was totally a plug and you gotta go there)

WOW!  Just reminiscing on my trip I feel I am on the right track with my weaving. Unique and original. Personal and handmade from the heART. I think I have shaken the “fraudster” now I think back to those reactions.

There is so much I want to do and only one pair of hands. The mind is furiously creating and filing ideas.

BREATHE LADY! (cause otherwise I might will die if I don’t)

Before anyone asks me for orders or my family harasses me again to SELL SELL SELL, I have this to say…..

Seriously tested my love for curling ribbon - was a fiddly one especially when you teach yourself
Seriously tested my love for curling ribbon

Everything I do is an expression of who I am.
I work from the heart.
It satisfies my soul.
The process is unravelling myself and my life.

My intention is always to produce ART first.
Secondly, to serve the communities I am a part of.

The money will come. There is a (loose) plan.

So you better start saving now bwahahahahaha. Hopefully I am not all unravelled and get all tangled up.

P.S. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY EVERYONE <3