Lalava lalava oh lalalalalva lalava lalava oh lalalalava lalava dududumdum

To the South Pacific Islands of Tonga and New Zealand we go!

With this guy——-> Filipe Tohi!

To do this thing—->lashing!

There is a peculiar third grade art standard that reads as follows:

3.3.5 Describe the function and meaning of specific works of art and objects from the Pacific Islands


Art standards such as these invite me to do a little research and stretch beyond the great artistic masters of the past to find new and interesting artists who are tapping into their culture and heritage to preserve tradition. Such is the case with our artist, Filipe Tohi. Tohi  moved from Tonga to New Zealand and has been working as a full time artist since 1992. He is the leading contemporary Pacific visual artists and dabbles in media ranging from stone, wood, steel and digital arts. He is most famous in our studio for his art of lalava. Lalava, the art of Polynesian lashing, or joining materials together, is a way for Tohi to “demonstrate how geometric patterns, formed by the layers of wrapped coconut sennit, were a well-established part of daily life, and a mnemonic device for representing a life philosophy that Lalava patterns advocate balance in daily living and were metaphorical and physical ties to cultural knowledge.”

We practiced locating the South Pacific on a globe and a map, demonstrating the difference between 2D and 3D geographical representations.

We are using colored raffia, instead of coconut skins, to lash our lalavas. This brought up an important conversation about the materials artists choose to work with and why. Price, convenience, functionality, etc. all play into it.

Preliminary sketches are a good habit to get into. We spent a day mapping out our geometric designs with rulers.

Wonderful craft and colors! I tried to stress the importance of sketching a design that would translate well to three dimension, like this one.

I love a good old fashioned collaborative project. Students had the option to work alone on their lalava or with a partner.

Reverse taping the body of the lalava was the first step. This part was tricky and having a partner to help was a bonus.

The dynamic duo!

These girls were very strategic in implementing their design. Many classmates took time out to complement their neat and precise work.

It’s nice when a project lends itself to a little physical hard work.

Because I can’t get this song out of my head every time I say the word lalava…


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