Dulcie Stewart

…[Dulcie] speaks of her ability to see Pacific motifs as they appear in the built urban environment. Her conceptual approach relies heavily on the repetition of geometric shapes and lines and when viewed together as a typology the viewer is reminded of the bold patterns that are common to Fijian masi and wood carvings.” 
Torika Bolatagici, Artist + Educator

Urban Viti was created by Brisbane based Dulcie Stewart who was born in Suva, Fiji. A library assistant by profession, Dulcie is also an artist, blogger, and family historian specialising in Fiji research, covering European contact prior to cession (1800 – 1874).

A product of migration and colonialism, she has Fijian (vasu Bua, Kadavu, Rewa and Bau), Danish, Spanish, Filipino, American, Irish, Irish American, English, and Chinese ancestry.

As a family historian, she is interested in fragmented identities and explores mixed race stories, documenting the undocumented and making archival material accessible.

Dulcie’s mixed heritage has influenced her arts practice. Her creative works have tried to understand, embrace, accept and acknowledge her “otherness”. She examines her journey as a minority, and the experiences of migration and diaspora.

Fijian in Brisbane (2011)
Fijian tapa, manhole, Hipstamatic iPhone app.
Dimensions variable

Working with digital images and the manipulation of photography on a mobile phone, her juxtaposed images move between abstract and figurative representation of contemporary Pacific identities.

The use of geometric designs and repetitive linear lines is prominent in traditional (like tatau, tapa, woven mats, adornments etc.) and contemporary Pacific art. Dulcie’s arts practice explores and celebrates the relationships between visual culture and contemporary Pacific identities through Pacific symbols, motifs and iconography found in her Australian urban landscape.

Her digital images explore questions of identity, both her own and that of others. In Fijian in Brisbane (2011, digital image) she contextualizes the narratives of her Fijian/white/Asian mixed heritage against forced labels and identity; it is a visual interpretation of personal narratives.

Dulcie co-founded the Red Wave Collective, an artist collective based at the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies at The University of the South Pacific (USP). The Collective was formed in 1997 after a workshop by New Zealand based Niuean artist John Pule, under the guidance of Centre Director, Pacific philosopher and academic, the late Professor ‘Epeli Hau’ofa.

Red Wave Collective, 1999. Standing: Dulcie Stewart, Rusiate Lali, Alma Wright. Sitting: William Bakalevu, Ben Fong, Josua Toganivalu, Meli Laddpeter and Maciu Bolaitamana. Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture,USP, Suva, Fiji. Photo courtesy of Josua Toganivalu.

Projects

i see oceania is an online digital series that documents found Pacific motifs and iconography in a non-Pacific urban landscape and the Pacific diaspora in Australia and New Zealand. These Pacific linkages in the captured landscape evoke memories of home and belonging. http://iseeoceania.tumblr.com/

The Middle: fragmented identities is an online archival art and research project that documents the use of the identity descriptors half-caste, Part-European and kailoma from the 19th century to the present day. These words have been used to label the descendants of the early European settlers and indigenous Fijian women. By documenting the use of these words in published and archival materials, the artist hopes to map and understand the complex narratives of mixed heritage and identity in post-colonial Fiji. Project has a projected end of 2013 launch date.

Fiji Shipping Index is an online index on vessels that arrived and departed from Fiji during the 19th Century. http://fijishipindex.wordpress.com/

Chinese in Fiji aims to help people research their Chinese heritage in Fiji. http://chinesefiji.wordpress.com/

Blogs

Urban Viti documents contemporary Pacific art, fashion, home and product design. Urban Viti is archived by The National Library of New Zealand and has been selected for inclusion in its historic collection of Internet materials. http://www.urbanviti.wordpress.com/

Fragmented Identities: the journey of a kailoma a family history research blog. http://fragmentedidentities.wordpress.com/

broken coconut where Dulcie tumblrs. http://brokencoconut.tumblr.com

Opening of the Gallery of Oceanian Art at the USP in Suva, 2011.
Top right: an/other oceania (2010-2011). Series of 12 digital prints, 254mm x 254mm (individual prints). Bottom (2nd painting): Untittled (2001). Oil on canvas.

Exhibitions

2013

Digital Natives: Return to Paradise, Fringe Festival, Blak Dot Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

2011   

diasporadic679, Southside Arts Festival, Otahuhu, Auckland, New Zealand

Opening of the Gallery of Oceanian Art, University of the South  Pacific (USP), Suva, Fiji

Pacific Storms, Logan Art Gallery, Queensland, Australia

2008      

Vasu : Pacific Women of Power, Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture (OCAC), USP (23 September – 27 September); Fiji Museum, Suva, Fiji (1 October – 31 October)

2004    

International Art Experiment: a benefit for nervousness.org, Zeitgeist Art Gallery, Portland, Oregon, USA

2001 

Red Wave group exhibition, James Harvey Gallery, Sydney, Australia

Australia Youthful Art Expressions on HIV/AIDS, STIs,   Sexuality, Empowerment and Youth, AIDS Taskforce Ellery Street Drop-In Centre, Suva, Fiji

1998-2001      

Red Wave group exhibitions, OCAC, USP, Suva, Fiji

1998

Papermaking Exhibition, OCAC, USP, Suva, Fiji

Commissions

University of the South Pacific

Yasawa Island Resort

Workshops attended at Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture, Suva, Fiji

2001                Print workshop by John Pule

1999                Art workshop by Teweariki Teaero

1998                Art workshop by John Pule; Art workshop by Griffith University; Papermaking workshop by Sofia Tekela-Smith

Publications

2011                DIASPORADIC679 exhibition catalogue; Pacific Storms 2011 exhibition catalogue

2008              Vasu: Pacific Women of Power exhibition catalogue

2004               Art in your Pocket: Small Art, Big Pictures / Andreas Duess

2001               Eating Mangoes / Mohit Prasad (Book cover based on paintings and  photographs)

Press

Fiji. Art AsiaPacific Almanac. Volume VII 2012. Page 115-116.

DIASPORADIC679: a treasure hunt of art. SPASIFIK magazine, November/December 2011. Page 76-77.

Haven’t I seen that design somewhere? Drum Pasifika, Issue 3, August 2011.

Radio Australia interview with Isabelle Genoux. 29 June 2011.

Urban Viti. Made in the Pacific Blog by Jacob Tolo, 22 June 2011.

Canvassing Dulcie Stewart. Drum Pasifika, Issue 1, June 2011. Page 20.

Lusim Land. Torika Bolatgaici’s Website, 27 May 2011.

Artful Dodger: The ‘Big Island’ in the Pacific by Zeplin, Pamela. Art Monthly Australia, Issue 232, August 2010. Page 5-10.

NEW BLOG // URBAN VITI. Torika Bolatgaici’s Blog, 17 June 2010

[Fiji] Blue Vasu.  Kelston, Waitakere, Auckland, New Zealand. 20 October, 2011. Taken on iPhone using Hipstamtic iPhone App.[Fiji] Blue Vasu.
Kelston, Waitakere, Auckland, New Zealand. 20 October, 2011.
Taken on iPhone using Hipstamtic iPhone App
Dimensions variable

[Fiji] Blue Vasu was orignally published on i see oceania 10 November, 2011.

“We sweat and cry salt water, so we know that the ocean is really in our blood” ~ Teresia Teaiwa

5 thoughts on “Dulcie Stewart

  1. I don’t mean to sound obnoxious, but what’s the difference between an American and an Irish American or Irish and Irish American. That’s just plain Irish ancestry to me to be honest. There isn’t an American race, unless of course you’re referring to Native Americans.

    • Definately not an obnoxious question. ‘Irish American’ are Americans who can trace back their heritage to Ireland. The migration of the Irish to American started as early as 1600. There are other racial groups in America who call themselves Italian Americans, German Americans etc.

      When writing about my ancestry I prefer to write seperately “Irish” and “Irish American” because their life experiences were different. My Irish hertiage in Fiji goes back to 1809 with my Irish born great great great grandfather Patrick Connell also known as Paddy Connor who arrived in Fiji via Australia, where he had been since the late 1700s

      Another Irish ancestor, my great great great grandfather Charles Pickering arrived circa 1830s-40s. Born in Australia, his mother was Irish.

      My Irish American heritage is via my great great grandfather Charles Rounds who arrived in Fiji in 1851 onboard a whaling boat.

      • The reason why I include the race of all my ancestors who have connecitons to Fiji (the place of my birth), is to show how identiy and the questions of my identity (both my own questions and that of others) influences my art practice.

        My digital print “Fijian in Brisbane” (2011) explores how only by moving to Brisbane that I’m considered Fijian or have that emotional connection to being called Fijian.

        Growing up in Fiji, I was either Part-European, kailoma, half-caste, Part-Chinese, a General voter, an Other – never Fijian. It wasn’t until I left Fiji for Brisbane in 2005 that I became Fijian.

        You can see the artwork here: https://urbanviti.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/fijian-in-brisbane-diasporadic679/

  2. Great response! I respect you for your efforts. I’m of mixed heritage too, but only two races- Irish and Fijian and first generation mixed Irish/Fijian as both my parents are natives of the two countries. But not as colourful or as interesting a background as yours. Thanks for sharing:)

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