mageau : melanesian marks
hand tap & hand poke melanesian tattoo
Julia Mage'au Gray
Julia Mageau Gray, has been marking skin since 2013 and transitioned into this art form after many years as dance practitioner, choreographer and director of Sunameke Productions.
It was her role of film maker of the Sunameke Productions three part documentary; Tep Tok : Reading Between Our Lines, and the journey to raise awareness for the dying art form that moved her into a new role of skin marking artist.
She uses the 'Hand Poke' and "Hand Tap" method of making skin and was taught by a number of Pasifika Tattoo Artists namely Tihoti Mataura, Pat Morrow and Croc Tatau.
Elaine Pokarop & Toria Maladina
"As is my process...
before I mark someone; I look at the body as a whole and as our women did before us, choose where and what to be marked on the body.
Normally Papua New Guinean women bring their familial designs. It's a collaborative process where we talk and decide together; today’s world is highly focused on the 'I' as opposed to our old Pasifika way which I feel focused on the 'we'.
The consultation process is a safe zone where myself and the person to be marked can have these discussions".
Photo: Ropate Kama
Talk with Julia.
Julia designs the marks and works out placement after speaking with you and getting to know your story.
It's a personal, collaborative and open process. At the end of the consult you decide whether you wish to go ahead.
Julia designs with Melanesian based patterns.
The designs are drawn freehand upon skin, the placement of the marks previously discussed during the first consult.
Once the drawing is complete the marking begins. Each session lasts 4 hrs, with Julia.
Julia with Vasa as stretcher, marks the skin using the hand tapping and hand poke method.
Photo: Katrina Sonter
Photo: Lisa Hilli
This session involves additional work to a large design that needs to be completed over a number of sessions.
The number of sessions required to finish a large piece are decided upon during the first session.
This session involves going over marks and tidying up the design. It's also an opportunity to reconnect.
Photo: Moale James