Sheyne Tuffery, Wellington
Sheyne's art practice has evolved over the course of his 27-year career as a visual artist, and his mixed heritage of Samoan and Scandinavian/Celt ancestry has played a significant role in his work. He attended art school at the Auckland Society of Arts from 1992 to 1995, majoring in printmaking and experimenting with various disciplines before settling on relief woodblock as a medium that suited his dynamic style.
One of Sheyne's notable exhibitions was the group exhibition "Bottled Ocean" in 1995, curated by Jim Vivieaere and showcasing contemporary Pacific art at the Auckland City Art Gallery. Sheyne's vision of futuristic Pacific architecture began to take shape after he obtained a Master's degree in relief printmaking from Auckland University at the turn of the millennium. He saw himself as a paper architect creating futuristic structures that gave identity to himself and the urbanization of the Pacific.
Sheyne was inspired by architectural landmarks such as the Gaudi monuments in Barcelona and Gothic Baroque of Prague, which helped him to blend the high rise/high-density housing of Auckland with the shape of the Samoan fale. He used the term "paper architecture" synonymously with his printmaking, as it was a blueprint for what he wanted to see. The concept of high-rise Pacific structures took on more meaning for Sheyne after he learned about rising sea levels in Kiribati and Tuvalu, and he began to incorporate environmental issues into his work, focusing on endangered species such as the Yellow-eyed penguin.
Sheyne's recent subject matter has been exploring popular science for a spiritual narrative. In 2019, he was an artist in residence at the Carter Observatory where he created a body of work responding to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. His work highlighted how science and engineering brought the world together, if only briefly, during a time when it was falling apart due to war and corruption.
During his research into astronomy, Sheyne had an epiphany about our place in the cosmos, which made him more aware of the fragility of the Earth's atmosphere and the need to educate children about science at an earlier age. This new understanding and perspective have influenced his recent art making, incorporating scientific themes and spiritual narratives.
Overall, Sheyne's work demonstrates a multidisciplinary approach to art making, utilizing various mediums to explore his mixed heritage, futuristic Pacific architecture, environmental issues, and popular science.