Tui Slater Conceptual Artist


Black Singlet Theme

Who wears the black singlet in 2010? Have we cleaned up our act since 1954 when Godfrey and Ivan Bowen wore our New Zealand outfit when meeting the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh?

My work is a daggy play on our ideals of the 1950's heydays alongside our progressive, domestic lives of today.

In my Black Singlet series, I use the icon of our singlet and work it so it can be seen from either a male or female perspective. In each piece of work, I take the same approach: after deciding what I want to "say in my art", I then select appropriate materials, draw designs, shape and work the metal/s (or other media) to get the feel I want and I then make my final mark on the piece - letter punches, anvil and hammer in hand. Be they seen as decoration, just plain quirky, or as a strong statements of where we have come from and / or where we are going in New Zealand, each work stands on its own.

The main materials I use are:
   • Copper, a reference to the old coppers of pre Gentle Annie's days.
   • Aluminium, a stalwart of New Zealand kitchens, reminiscent to me of our "Blokes and Sheila culture", each with their own black attire (singlets / L.B.D.; made up women with heels and apron on ready with a hot meal on the table!
   • Corrugated iron to signify the more masculine part of the domestic scene. Tin shacks, a roof over our head made of galv - we would be lost with out it I feel.

Other items that I use often include:
   • The safety pin as an icon, to suggest home comforts, security, temporary measures, a quick repair, or a nostalgia trip. Wearing a chain made of safety pins, or a sink plug chain has a certain aesthetic appeal, but could also be seen as a mark of strength - fine delicate gold chains, replaced with chunky, bold "costume styled" jewellery. On the other hand pink, white or blue tipped safety pins may be statements on our stereotyping (nurtured from birth) of male and female roles, on growing up, and equality.
   • Shepherds' whistles, taken out of context
   • Baby letter beads spelling out my quirky statements (often about New Zealand culture) make an appearance in my work at times.



Pure "Tuiana" - my parody on Kiwiana. Tuiana is my passion; observing and toying with New Zealand's iconography. I wonder who it is that defines our culture, what our gender and associated roles should be?

The majority of my present work is based on one of two themes:
• Black Singlet
New Zealand Landscape
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