It’s been two weeks since I opened my crowdfunding campaign. The response from so many has been heart warming. Many old friends and family members I have not spoken to for years have been in touch and donated and of course new friends, colleagues and also patrons from Opera Holland Park. Many more have been sharing and spreading the word, helping me drum up support and I’m already at almost at half of my target so if you haven’t donated yet don’t be shy, there’s still a way to go. The money raised from the campaign will be crucial and will go towards my pre-season training and my first competitions. So it really will be critical to making the whole thing happen.
The picture above is the draft design for the t-shirts and hoodies. I sketched out the original idea using traditional patterns from Tongan Ngatu or tapa cloth, an incredible fabric that is made from the bark of the Paper mulberry tree, beaten out by hand, laminated and painted with symbolic patterns. The process is one from a pre-industrialised age, all done by hand by woman. Perhaps it is apt then that I owe a debt of thanks to my mother for helping to scale up the design. In Tonga to this day the sound of bark being beaten out can be heard in and amongst the villages. At home we’ve always had tapa so it was something I grew up with. When looking for inspiration for the t-shirt designs the evocative and symbolic patterns were the natural choice. I chose the palm in the centre as it’s a design that is close to my heart; my father, siblings and nephew all have this as a tattoo and those who support me will also be part of the family. Lining the palm is the Fata ‘o Tu’i Tonga motif – referring to the house of the king, in particular, the central beam. Representative of the sennit bindings which holds the support of the central beam, supporting the thatched roof. It’s a symbol of strength. Next is the Holo Paini motif representing the Norfolk Pines that line the street to the Royal Palace. Representing the royal patronage of the ski team it was originally the late King’s dream to have a ski team. They’re also reminiscent of the conifers that are found in the mountainous regions where we ski. Beyond these a pattern called Amoamokofe – meaning to rub with a bamboo stick. This design is from Vava’u the northern most group of islands from where my family originate and from which I have formed four mountains representing the strength and steadfastness of my family upon which my dreams are built, the mountains upon which I ski and the four corners of the globe I will travel to make this dream a reality.
If you’d like to know more about Tongan Ngatu click here.
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