Michel Tuffery | BIO < back to artists

Michel Tuffery completed a Diploma in Fine Arts (Honours) at Otago Polytechnic School of Art 1986-89, since that time he has developed a high profile as one of New Zealand's leading Contemporary artists.

Tuffery's works have been exhibited in a number of significant New Zealand and International Art  Exhibitions, the most recent being Paradise Now? Contemporary Art of the Pacific at the Asia Society Museum, New York, 2004. The exhibition grouped 15 artists from New Zealand and the wider Pacific, where the diverse range of cutting edge artwork reflects the cultural uniqueness and vibrancy of New Zealand arts.

Tuffery is a fulltime arts practitioner is globally mobile, pacific minded and New Zealand based. Tuffery from 1987 has engaged in New Zealand and International Symposiums and continues his creative development as the recipient of a number of New Zealand and International Artist in Residencies.

Tuffery's exhibits widely and participates in Public and Private exhibitions, his artwork is held in a number of significant Public and Private Collections globally.

Following the Artists Room exhibition, Tuffery is having his first exhibition at the Art House Gallery, Singapore.

Artist Statement: "This body of works reflects Tuffery's diverse approach in his art practise and continues the visual narration of  my readings of: E.H. McCormick's book Omai: Pacific Envoy, Michael King: The Penguin History of New Zealand and Anne Salmond's The Trial of the  Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas. The dissection of  the eclectic array of characters and the inevitable consequences of two cultures coming together are central to this exhibition, foremost is the tahu'a (translates High Priest) Tupaia who left Tahiti with Cook on his first voyage, acting as an Interpreter and somewhat of a Cultural AttacheÌ."


Michel Tuffery M.N.Z.M introduces us to a new collection of works inspired by nostalgia around his childhood memories of the postage stamp. He recalls the memories of receiving packages from Taranaki bearing a collage of stamps. This nostalgia is heightened by the onset of the digital age and how this has altered the whole ritual of sending a letter and in how we personally communicate.

Tuffery translates historical iconic stamps from around Aotearoa and Te Wai Pounamu into a contemporary media using graph stencil and plays on the composition, colour and text to trigger our own visual memories.


MICHEL TUFFERY M.N.Z.M; Born 1966 Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand of Samoan, Cook Island and Tahitian descent.

On paper and by reputation Michel Tuffery is one of the seminal role players for visibility of Contemporary Pacific Island art locally and beyond the wider Pacific. His creative output is expansive as he is adept at all arts media, printing, painting and sculpting, and works collaboratively with technicians and other art practitioners to realise his performance and installation projects, requiring moving image, light and sound.  His concerns are measured and politicised around the conservation of the environment and shaped by his Pacific Island ancestry.  Bula Figure 13 Series Tasi is Michel’s update on the remarkable Fijian ‘votive bowls’ traditionally carved in the shape of a man in order to carry coconut oil used at special cultural ceremonies. Only 13 remain with Auckland Museum holding two of these extremely rare votive bowls in the Oldman Collection.

Visibility has been achieved through Awards, Commissions, International residencies and Exhibitions where his art is held in numerous Public and Private collections. Selected Exhibitions include: Selected Exhibitions include:  Tiaho - Contemporary Photography from Oceania, The Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (2010); Nui Pasifik – Urban Art from the Pacific Rim, Gorman University Art Gallery, San Francisco, USA (2010); Manuia, The American Indian Community House, New York, USA (2010); Art in the Contemporary Pacific – The Great Journey, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan (2009); Le Folauga Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan (2008 – 2009); Samoa Contemporary Pataka Museum, Porirua, toured Sarjeant Gallery, Tauranga Art Gallery, NZ (2008 – 2009); Pasifika Styles University of Cambridge Museum, UK (2006 -2008); Tangata o le Moana Museum of N.Z Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, N.Z (2007 – 2017); First Contact Pataka Museum, Porirua, N.Z (2007); Across Oceans and Time Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan (2007); Dateline, NBK Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2007); News from Islands, Campbelltown Art Gallery, Sydney, Australia (2007); New Zealand Contemporary Landscapes, The Arthouse, Singapore (2005); Landscapes & Beyond Amelia Johnson Contemporary Gallery, Hong Kong (2005); Paradise Now? Asia Society Museum, New York, USA (2004); 20:20 Sight Pacific, CoCa, Christchurch – 'Touring Exhibition’N.Z (2003); Disapora – Art  of the Asia Pacific, Portfolio Gallery, Auckland, NZ (2002); Islands in the Sun, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia (2001); Te Ao Tawhito / Te Ao Hou, Art Museum of Missoula, USA (2000); The Third Asia Pacific Triennial - APT3, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (1999); Waka Naima, Centre Culturel Tjibaou, Noumea, New Caledonia (1998); Aesthetic Departures, Coca Gallery, Christchurch, N.Z (1997); Pacific Exhibition, Dowse Art Gallery, Lower Hutt, N.Z (1996); Bottled Ocean, Wellington City Gallery, Wellington, N.Z (1994); The 1st Asia Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (1993); Heart of the Land, Australia National Gallery, Canberra, Australia (1992); 3 Polynesian Artists, Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch, NZ (1990); What is my Identity, Maota Samoa House, Auckland, N.Z (1988);