It was marvelous to bend, crawl, climb, and gasp through the labyrinth of bright caves that Adam Douglass, the On the Spot collective, the Seleka Club, and

two hundred volunteers have created at On the Spot's headquarters in central Nuku'alofa called Vataulua. ' Imagine a tropical Lascaux Cave, in which visual

discussions of political and social issues of the twenty-first century, like police violence and religious intolerance, sit alongside the shamanic motifs -

forests, wild beasts, hunters - that ripple across the walls of ancient caves, and you'll have a sense of the power and mystery of Vataulua. My oldest son enjoyed

crawling with a torch to the secret room where the shadows of sharks and whales pursued each other across dim walls. ' Scott Hamilton


In June 2015 I travelled to Tonga to research how a psychedelic model of collaborative painting could be transformed in Tonga .I was fortunate to work with the amazing

team at On the Spot Arts Initiative and all the other fantastic artists who participated. This aesthetic system is dependent on diversity.


Check out the fantastic work that these Tongan Arts Collectives are doing:


Acknowledgements: On the Spot Arts Initiative, Melbourne University, Apco, Alliance Francaise


On the Spot Artspace, late into the evening of the opening, August 4, 2015

Rachel stirring the kava

Entrance to Vataulua

First room of Vataulua

Looking back towards the entrance

Trapdoor to a tunnel that leads to a secret room above

Inside the secret room there are no doors or lights. The audience must have their own torch. Inside the area are a series of marker pens to encourage contributions

The back room

Opening night

Ebonie Fifita is a multi disciplinary artist and director of On the Spot Arts Initiative. On the Spot is an independent organisation that provide and support

artistic endeavours, facilitate professional events and exhibitions and are dedicated to cultural development in Tonga, making the arts accessible and providing a

platform for all Tongans to influence and contribute to culture. On the Spot produce and support various traditional and contemporary art forms, including

theatre, dance,music, visual art and everything inbetween. They are important to the development of free expression and creativity in Tonga.

Tevita Latu is a prominent Tongan artist and member of Seleka. The first time I had a conversation with Tevita was during a kava session at Seleka. I asked whether it

was protocol to drink the cup of kava I was given in one swig. Tevita replied 'If that's protocol Adam, maybe you should do it in two.' This brief exchange highlights

Tevita's and Seleka's motivation: question, challenge and critique conventions, particularly conventions that are designed to exploit.


The Seleka fale, where kava and painting is a popular pastime time


Painting workshops

Photo: Mark Aubort

Painting workshops

Photo:Mark Aubort

Seleka artist Tevita Mamani, putting in an epic effort to help complete Vataulua

Painting workshops


When Jesus say yes, nobody can say no, when jesus say yes, nobody can say no. I know Jesus loves me. Love Naua


The right hand panels feature one statement above, and a response below.

(above right) Join Tongan Polisi Tamate (Join Tongan Police, Murderers)

I learnt that this may have been painted in relation to this murder:

(below right) Mate Ma'a Tonga ( die for Tonga)

Kihe Lelei Taha (strive for the best)

Ki he Lele (until they flee/run) Ita Ha (angry why)

PINE toko (don't give up, stick it out, carry on brother)

LO2 is text abbreviation for Lotu (prayer, pray or religion, it also resembles LOL)



(left) Naua focused on the location of her panel (right) Steev Maka and Ebonie Fifita hanging out under the whale. Vataulua would not have been possible without the

massive contribution of this dynamic duo, from building anything imaginable to professional productions and kindness and generosity. These two are amazing.


Photo: Mark Aubort



Interview with Ebonie Fifita by Cameron Sugden- please contact me for password.



Interview with Mele Palu by Ebonie Maka-Fifita one month after the exhibtion opeing of Vataulua. Camera Sugden camera. Please contact me for password.



Interview with Steev Maka by Ebonie Maka-Fifita one month after the exhibtion opeing of Vataulua. Camera Sugden camera. Please contact me for password.





















©Copyright - Adam Douglass 2015