When exhibitions and projects collide – meaningful collaborations

In the early planning stages of our recent exhibition Identi-Tee, context and content were being eroded by time, space, and budget – that ever important element of good exhibition planning. Our desire to explain the process of screen printing in a meaningful way came in at the end of the ever-tightening timelines. That was until Urbanlife launched and, our Urbanlife and Identi-Tee worlds collided.

The Youthline Advisory Group were the first intake of Urbanlife participants to be introduced to the museum’s pictorial collections, to spark their thoughts about employment, both historically and in their own current experience. This was followed a week later by a hands on workshop at Artstation, where the youth participants set about turning their concepts and ideas into actual T-shirt statements about youth employment. The Urbanlife participants all a lot ‘cooler’ and younger then moi were tutored and mentored by Siliga David Setoga of Popohardwear, who’s well-known T-shirts featured in our Identi-Tee exhibition. Siliga is deeply passionate about his art practice and equally generous and graceful when tutoring our Urbanlife participants in the finer points of t-shirt printing.

“There are huge barriers that come up for youth looking for employment. There’s a huge issue around confidence, not being brave enough to give things a go, second-guessing and self-doubt, being susceptible to peer pressure. The distrust in institutions and wider society, because they’ve been counted out at the beginning, they are carrying the chip of being untrustworthy, slackers, so it’s just those bags that weigh them down before they even get started.” Siliga Setoga.

Screen printing at Artstation

Screen printing at Artstation

Screen printing at Artstation

Screen printing at Artstation

The creative process.

The creative process.

“Experiences, qualifications, references, chances, transport, support, pressure, distractions, skills, confidence….”

“I’m not them, see me as me and guide me away from poverty with a chance”

The following images provide a sneak peek into the Urbanlife project and go a little way in explaining how to set your own screens ‘Siliga style’. Check out this sequence to see how ideas become T-shirts.

Hopes T-shirt: ‘Will work for peanuts’

Victors T-shirt: ‘How AM I MEANt TO get experience if YOU won’t give me the chance?’

Uzair’s T-shirt: ‘The poor dream rich’

Liam’s T-shirt: ‘Aspire to do better… Nek Minit!’

“The Youth Advisory Group for Youthline is for 16-19 year olds, and was set up so that we can ask young people how they want us to work with them, targeting young people who were still at school, or sitting at home, or at university. In regards to the T-shirts they have really enjoyed being able to be creative and to make something of themselves. When we sat in the museum and looked at all the different books and newspaper articles, it was really interesting to see the young people years ago were doing the same thing as they are doing now, slightly different scale but very similar stuff.” Melodie McDonald-senior youth worker, Youthline.

Melodie’s T-shirt: ‘Old people retire so young people can start their journeys’

Feline t-shirt

During our Identi-Tee: My T-shirt, My Story exhibition, we displayed this Feline PVC t-shirt which was presented to Auckland Museum in 2003 by Auckland fashionista Faith.
Finn McCahon-Jones, our Associate Curator Applied Arts, interviewed Faith about the history and significance of the t-shirt, which she purchased from Feline’s Auckland store in 1996.


Feline PVC t-shirt 1996

Feline PVC t-shirt 1996


“I wore the t-shirt to my 7th form ball, which had an anything goes fancy dress theme; hence the random collection of Star Troopers, Cat Women, princesses and 1970s throwbacks in the photo.

I was an avid fan of British magazines The Face and iD at the time, and I was kind of digging the dark, almost gothic club wear they often had in their photoshoots. So I thought I’d wear something along those lines that was kind of cat like – fancy dress enough but not too obvious when going into town later.

I trawled the shops looking for something suitable and Feline (funnily enough) was the only shop doing stuff like that. They only had a small selection of sizes so I got the t-shirt tailor made, even went in for a fitting before it was finished.

They had rubber versions at the same price too but was told they got really hot, and you had to douse yourself in talcum powder before wearing it or else you could get a nasty chaff!

I think they were making stuff like that for clubbers, especially the ones going to those ‘Sex’ themed parties at Havoc’s Squid Bar. Plus I remember there seemed to be big interest in bondage styles in fashion at the time, maybe partly thanks to the new Batman movie and the proliferation of Taschen books – you know Betty Page and all that.

I made a full length A-line skirt out of this slinky leopard print gold lamé stuff to wear with it. I also wore a 1960s black coat with real fur lapels and trim, a spiked collar, black boots, and my hair up in pointy ‘ears’ (Faith is second from right in photo).


At her 7th form ball, Faith - second from the right - wears her Feline PVC t-shirt.

At her 7th form ball, Faith - second from the right - wears her Feline PVC t-shirt.


I didn’t wear the t-shirt very often after that, a couple of (dare I say) techno parties perhaps, oh and it came in very handy when I was working at a bar that had at a Matrix theme one night. Ha ha.

Shiny/glossy things were so hot then. I also made a few black satin dresses and some metallic blue trousers, got a PVC biker style sleeveless vest in Sydney, and had an ex-traffic cop’s jacket with big reflective stripes. Shudder.”


July 27, 2012

Posted by:

Chanel Clarke

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All, Exhibitions, Identi-Tee

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Maori Language Week – Arohatia Te Reo

As we near the end of Maori Language Week I believe there’s no better way to celebrate your love of the language than with a T-shirt.  T-shirts say it loud and proud like the one below in Identi-Tee, My T-shirt, My Story.


E Tu Stand Proud

E Tu Stand Proud - part of our Identi-Tee exhibition


Why don’t you hop on over to our friends at Mr Vintage and show your support for Maori Language Week.  And when you wear your T-shirt you’ll be supporting the Maori language every day of the year.


Tahi Rua Toru T-shirt - from Mr Vintage

Tahi Rua Toru T-shirt - from Mr Vintage


Or better still upload your Maori language T-shirts to www.identi-tee.com.  Tahi, rua, toru, wha, pukana!


July 25, 2012

Posted by:

Chanel Clarke

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All, Exhibitions, Identi-Tee

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Peace, Love and Zumba

Do you Zumba?  I do. Well I try to.  I know off by heart the days and times of the Zumba classes at my gym does that count?

Peace, Love, Zumba T-shirt on display in Identi-Tee

Peace, Love, Zumba T-shirt on display in Identi-Tee

Of course I start the week with the best of intentions aiming to attend at least one or two of these classes but alas, the gym bag usually remains lonely and unloved in the corner of my office.  Today always turns into tomorrow and then tomorrow never comes.  Do you have the same problem?  Please tell me I’m not alone in my struggle.

My lonely gym bag waiting for some action

My lonely gym bag waiting for some action

I met a grandmother the other day and when I mentioned Identi-tee she said she had an Tri Maori T-shirt to upload by the end of the month!  Well that put my pitiful efforts trying to Zumba to shame. Check out our website where you can see Cushla in her Iron Maori T-shirt.

Cushla in her Iron Maori T-shirt

Cushla in her Iron Maori T-shirt

As we countdown towards the London 2012 Olympic Games I realise that motivation is one of the crucial factors that sets me apart from some of our most promising Olympic athletes.  For those times I manage to make it to the gym, which as you might have guessed by now are few and far between, no pain, no gain, becomes my mantra.  Ditch the workout and join the Zumba party as they say!  One day I will find my Peace, Love and Zumba in the meantime I’d love to know what sporting codes your T-shirts represent.

Maybe you have a special T-shirt like Kellie does that celebrates a Rugby Sevens tournament in France in honour of her brother.

Jepsen children wearing their Howard Hinton Rugby Sevens T-shirts

Jepsen children wearing their Howard Hinton Rugby Sevens T-shirts

Maybe you competed in your Tribal games, Pa wars, Street Wars or maybe the Weetbix Kids Tryathlon.  What teams do you follow?  What sports do you play?  Got the T-shirt? Load it up and show the world www.identi-tee.com.

July 3, 2012

Posted by:

Karen Tribbe

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All, Exhibitions, Identi-Tee

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That yellow t-shirt

Today I live my professional life as a Graphic Designer at the Auckland Museum. But this was not always so, and last week I was reminded of this while wandering past our Identi-tee exhibition. There, front and centre, was a yellow t-shirt that caught my eye. It took me on a journey back to my former life in the military, and reiterated the very nature and purpose of Identi-tee – to expose the evocative voice of the humble T-shirt.

The Peace Monitoring Group t-shirt worn by the troops

In 1998 I was an Officer in the New Zealand Army and I was deployed to Bougainville with the Peace Monitoring Group. It was a defining experience of my life filled with really special moments that are as clear as though they were yesterday. I wore that same yellow t-shirt while conducting my duties as a Patrol Commander in the Arawa sector – the tricky central area where the open-cut mine that had caused the original conflict was located, and where the villages were remote. And by ‘remote’ I mean several days walk through uncharted jungle, where the sky was so clear we couldn’t distinguish the Southern Cross from all the other stars. And where an entire generation of children had never seen a foreigner, a soldier, a woman with hair that was straight and flat.

Karen with some of the local children in Bougainville

It was here that I was forced to reevaluate my own centre because, at 23, despite being responsible for lives and missions I was still so very young in the world. I learned that happiness truly is not equal to wealth, status, possessions or place. It is directly proportional to our sense of belonging, of community and family strengthened by good leadership, tradition and culture. Most importantly, I learned how crucial peace and stability are to basic human rights. I was a small cog in an important wheel and it gave me a real sense of professional and personal satisfaction.

Karen and the Colonel at Bougainville Airport

Back in the present, I am reminded that our lives are so varied and so rich that it is important that we talk to our colleagues beyond the business of here and now. We all have other lives, past lives, other experiences and it makes us a very surprising and interesting group indeed.

And all this flew through my head as I passed an object on display! Talk about the power of the place where I am most privileged to spend my day.


Read about Karen’s peacekeeping duties on the Sinai Peninsula in 2000.

Happy and Glorious

What a “Happy and Glorious” week it’s been as the Commonwealth, and indeed the whole world, has sent well wishes to Queen Elizabeth for her Diamond Jubilee.

Now for some of you out there the phrase “Happy and Glorious” will elicit some interesting and wonderful memories.  But for others, myself included, this phrase meant absolutely nothing when Rose Young the museums’ History Curator rocked in with this T-shirt.

Now for some of you out there the phrase

Rose Young's t-shirt was produced by the Victoria & Albert Museum for the Queen's Golden Jubilee


The words are of course lyrics contained in the second verse of the national anthem “God Save the Queen”. In New Zealand this was the sole national anthem until 1977 when “God Defend New Zealand” was added as a second.  Hence, as a Generation X’er I never had the pleasure of singing this version, and so “Happy and Glorious” were not in my vocab.  Truth be told I don’t even know the words of “God Save the Queen” at all but can belt out “God Defend New Zealand” a lot better than some of those All Blacks on that football field can!

The T-shirt was produced by the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and here we are, another decade later, and another anniversary.

As Rose says “some people do not immediately comprehend the meaning of the words but they were once a fundamental aspect of our lives as New Zealanders to be heard in many venues”.  She remembers if you were heading to the picture theatre to watch a movie everybody would have to stand for the national anthem prior to the movie starting.  If you didn’t, (and Rose being the rebel that she is, sometimes didn’t) you were singled out by the usher with the torchlight and commanded to stand.  After a time the anthem changed from the beginning of the movie to the end when of course you had to stand to exit the picture theatre.  This shift signalling the cultural shift that was also occurring as generations of New Zealanders who had grown up in Godzone increasingly identified with New Zealand as home rather than the Mother Country and its monarch.

What does Happy and Glorious mean for you today as we celebrate 60 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign?  What memories does it evoke for you?

Let us know and if you have any other Queenie T-shirts upload them to the website www.identi-tee.com.

Identi-tee - My T-shirt, My Story

Talofalava – 50th Anniversary of Samoan Independence

With the 50th Anniversary of Samoan Independence marked last Friday, the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa on 1st August, as well as having just celebrated le Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa, Samoan language week, it’s all things Samoan at the moment.

Samoa Tee

Le Va Fealoa’i: Strong and Respectful Relationships has been the theme of le vaiaso o le gagana Samoa, and it’s a vision and aspiration we can work toward into the future of this increasingly multi-cultural city of ours. Here’s a little known fact for you – Samoan is the second most spoken language in Auckland.


Samoa Tee 2

The Identi-tee team acknowledges the momentous occasion of the 50th year of independence. We note also that Samoan t-shirt designers have been at the forefront of the contemporary use of the ‘t-shirt as bill board’. Collectives such as No FeFe of Australia and Fa’a Samoa of Los Angeles were early protagonists. Today a strong phalanx of Samoan graphic designers, hip hop exponents, contemporary artists and of course the straight up entrepreneurial types continues this creative enterprise. They continue to at times challenge, at other times take the micky, but always, to be proudly Samoan – manuia le soifua.


Samoa Tee 3

KRS-ONE and the Temple of Hip Hop comes to heaven (in Aotearoa)

'Scholarly work' Photo by Ekaterina Chernova

Last Sunday we were privileged to welcome one of the world’s Hip Hop icons into the Events Centre here at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. When I mentioned that we had honoured veterans of War earlier that morning he said, well now you have another veteran in the building. I began my introduction with a whakatauki ‘Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro nona te ngahere, ko te manu e kai ana i te matauranga, nona te ao’ ‘The bird that eats the miro berries his realm is the forest, the bird who seeks knowledge has access to the world’ I thought this was appropriate in light of the philosophies that KRS ONE aka ‘the teacha’ shared with a captivated crowd of over 500 dedicated hiphoppa’s.

KRS ONE an acronym for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone evidences his passion to spread awareness about the fundamentals of Hiphop, appropriately (in light of our Identi-Tee exhibition) using his t-shirt as a black board to describe Hiphop as a consciousness, Hip Hop the culture, and hip-hop the music and product that spreads the word.

'Hip Hop is culture' Photo by Ekaterina Chernova

‘Every culture produces its own “keeper”. Every culture produces its own principles, its own history, its own advocates, and its own prophet pointing the way to a higher quality of life. For the urban-street culture known in the world today as “Hip Hop”, KRS-One is all of the above. Appearing on the rap scene in 1986 as Boogie Down Productions releasing his first hit single “South Bronx” with the late DJ Scott La Rock, KRS “the one” made it clear that he was “the teacha”.’

It’s been a pretty epic week since last Thursday when we welcomed our first group of youth participants into the building for Urbanlife, which also opened the doors to this opportunity to host KRS-ONE, thank you to Aotearoa’s own godfather of Hiphop DLT (Darryl Thomson) for making the call, and to the promoters and all the museum staff who took a proactive approach towards reaching out to a younger generation and new diverse audiences. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me as an MC, and the culmination of years of active involvement in Hiphop culture, the responses that I have had from people out in the wider community have been only positive, grateful and congratulatory that we jumped on the chance and were bold enough to provide a comfortable space for this event to occur.

'Hiphop is a conciousness'- Photo by Ekaterina Chernova

“Just To see KRS-One speak was a privilege! A lesson in life, in history and in Hip Hop — in all senses of the term. The standing ovation well deserved. The venue couldn’t have been better. Big thanks Auckland Museum for your last-minute magic!”

(Facebook comment)

KRS ONE himself praised the Museum for being bold enough to acknowledge the relevance of Hiphop and the knowledge he had to share from moments and major players in social and political American history to honouring women and the single mothers who have supported and enabled their sons and daughters to step forth and build the phenomenon that is Hiphop as we know it today.

‘If I can say a heartfelt thanks to this museum, if you talk about the preservation of Hiphop this is the first museum in the world to host an event like this. Let this be a message to all other museums that can’t find time for Hiphop in its institution, don’t wanna do the scholarly work to understand Hiphop. There’s a lot museums around we know, and I’m talking about really the museums in the United States is what I’m saying, because it’s a shame, I would never be invited to a museum of this stature in the United States, imagine… I would never be invited they have no time for me, they have no respect for what we do, this is America where Hiphop started, and this is how we are treated… then I come to heaven… Aotearoa……’ KRS ONE

'The teacha speaks'- Photo by Ekaterina Chernova

For those of you who want more teachings check out www.TempleofHipHop.org and don’t forget May is NZ Music month so get out and show some love at upcoming gigs and buy some NZ Hiphop! KRS ONE also asked that I mention Hiphop appreciation week so here it is …May 14th-21st
Massive shout outs to DLT, Teremoana, King Kapisi, Che Fu, Slave, Hype and the Hedlok crew, DJ’s Sirvere and Manuel Bundy …. Nga Remu, JLove, matua Haare and the museum whanau… and Ekaterina Chernova for capturing these beautiful images on the day!

Naku noa na Miss bMe

Identi-tee Activity

With three elements to the identi-tee exhibition – on-site, off-site and on-line – the work can get pretty extreme. But a really cool on-site component in the Tamaki Gallery is the opportunity for some tactile interactivity. In other words we provide cloth templates for visitors to come up with unique t-shirt designs which are then exhibited in the gallery.


This shot was taken within hours of the show opening and already submissions going up in the identi-tee gallery.

This shot was taken within hours of the show opening and already submissions going up in the identi-tee gallery.


The other exciting component in the gallery is the activity table itself. If you live locally and haven’t seen it yet, the table alone is worth the trip in to the museum, I guarantee it. Twelve used printing screens are incorporated into the table, and 2 into each of the seats. The screens have been kindly donated to identi-tee by Excellent Screen Printers ESP NZ.


Twelve used printing screens are incorporated into the table, and 2 into each of the seats.

Twelve used printing screens are incorporated into the table, and 2 into each of the seats.


We’ve inserted into the table-top screens photographs from the Museum’s image archives by local photographer Gil Hanly taken in the 1980s of t-shirts being worn at national and local occasions around Aotearoa.

Table inserts from Gil Hanly Collection Table inserts from Gil Hanly Collection


From the Gil Hanly collection


The screen printing technique has been around for over 1000 years, and there is a lot of information out there on the web and in our communities. But here are some sites I’ve found useful. You can find local screen printing suppliers, or art classes are offered all over town if you prefer.

http://www.esponline.co.nz/screenprint101.html – a quick ‘how to’ from our printing screen sponsors, ESP.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0H_utRjIGsc – Enterprising Bubbi demonstrates a really simple stencilling technique that anyone can do at home. All you need are a few easy to get pieces of equipment – embroiders frame, pva glue, fabric paint and a bit of imagination.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/may/11/how-to-screen-print-tshirts-at-home/print – Easy step-by-step explanation for making and printing from your own paper stencil by Lee May Foster.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnTigzeAfvg – The guys at Custom Logo USA, have generously uploaded a 2 part video tutorial on screen printing on a coloured garment, the set-up however is on a larger scale.

www.catspitproductionsllc.com – Jonathan provides really useful video tutorials, tips and advice and has a blog post all covering a range of screen printing topics. And yes, there’s an explanation for the business name.

Identi-tee - My T-shirt, My Story

University Wars

So the Festivals are done and dusted.   We trotted out our kiosk and iMacs so you could all take goofy pictures of yourself in your favourite T-shirts and you’re all looking mighty fine on our website www.identi-tee.com.

But I’m sure there are a lot more T-shirts out there.  We want www.identi-tee.com to be the biggest T-shirt archive in the world so it’s time to get serious now.  I thought we would kick off with some Tribal Wars but actually our good friends over at Huffer have just announced a pretty cool collaboration with Auckland University and so Uni Wars it is.  As an incentive we might even have a prize for the first University tee uploaded to our site.  And I’m sure the folks at Auckland University might even throw in one of these fab new Huffer designed T-shirts for the person with the best University of Auckland T-shirt story. 

Back in the day when I went to University we used to have this thing called the T-shirt drop for O Week (that’s Orientation Week for those of you north of the Bombays!).  Anyway the idea is you all head over to this green space behind the local Tavern, then affectionately known as the Hilly, and a helicopter flies around and drops a few goodies from the air, including a handful of T-shirts.  Now these aren’t just any old T-shirts.  The lucky recipient of a T-shirt was entitled to several free jugs from the aforementioned establishment.  So with helicopter hovering overhead and goodies dropping from the sky I spy a t-shirt coming straight for me.  Only thing is there’s this towering giant guy in front of me.  We both reached for the heavens and a slight struggle ensues and someone came out with a few grazes and a bruised ego but it wasn’t me! I never knew what happened to that T-shirt but we had some fun that night. 

It’s all on people.  In our office we’ve currently got Waikato against Auckland and all I’ve got to say is Mooloo Ole, Ole, Ole!

Identi-tee - My T-shirt, My Story