Stars start falling

Stars start falling brings together existing and newly commissioned works by Teuane Tibbo, Ani O’Neill and Salome Tanuvasa, many seen here in public for the first time.

It was a dream that the stars were falling that prompted Teuane Tibbo to begin painting in the 1960s, subsequently quickly rising to prominence in Auckland’s art scene. She worked prolifically through the 1960s and ’70s, painting scenes of her youth in Sāmoa from photographs and memories, and still lifes of flowers plucked from her garden.

Stars start falling puts Tibbo’s paintings from the ’60s and ’70s into conversation with work made by Ani O’Neill in 1999 and new commissions by Salome Tanuvasa, spanning more than fifty years of artistic practice. The artists’ shared sensitivity toward the conditions under which, and locations where, art is made gives a complex view of the shifting landscape of Pacific life in Aotearoa over the last half century.

A space to dream, a space to remember, a space to work, a space to make connections. Stars start falling brings together work that examines processes of memory, learning, and knowledge as responses to the artists’ engagement with the everyday and the extraordinary. Made in the garden, around the kitchen table, in a moment stolen in the dark of night, or as the duties of domestic life continue to tick along in the background, the artworks in this exhibition examine the cultural, social, and political imaginations that shape our relationship to place.

Teuane Tibbo was born in Sāmoa in 1895. In 1926 she moved to Fiji with her husand, Edward Tibbo, and in 1945 they settled in Auckland with their children. Tibbo began painting in the 1960s and quickly became a prominent figure in Auckland’s art scene. She was exhibited in galleries around Aotearoa and her work acquired into a number of public collections. Tibbo died in 1984, aged 91. Since her death she has been included in a number of significant surveys of Pacific art and in 2001 was the subject of the retrospective Keep it in the Heart: The Paintings of Teuane Tibbo at Lopdell House, Auckland.

Ani O’Neill was born in Auckland in 1971. She graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts in 1994 and has exhibited widely in Aotearoa and internationally since. O’Neill’s work often references skills and techniques passed down from her Cook Islands grandmother, drawing on the unique histories and forms of knowledge which are central to art forms like tivaevae, embroidery, sewing and crochet. Her practice spans installation, object making and performance, both as a solo practice and in collaboration. O’Neill is a member of the Pacific Sisters collective. For the last decade she has lived and worked between Auckland and Rarotonga.

Salome Tanuvasa is a Sāmoan-Tongan artist based in Auckland. She completed her Masters in Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts in 2014, followed by a Diploma in Secondary Teaching. Her work crosses a variety of mediums including moving image, drawing, photography and sculpture. It is about her immediate surroundings and often reflects the environments she is in at that time, drawing attention to wider issues among New Zealand-based Pacific people.

Stars start falling is presented by the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery | Len Lye Centre and curated by Hanahiva Rose

Photo: Sam Hartnett

10 November - 20 February 2022

Photos by Sam Hartnett


Leafa Wilson for Pantograph Punch
Video interview with Salome Tanuvasa
Video interview with Ani O’Neill
Teaune Tibbo at Lopdell House, 2001
Exhibition publication (8mb)