Mateiwai: Struggle first to reach your goal

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research, Innovation , International) Professor Derrick Armstrong presenting artist Josaia Mateiwai his certificate. Also seen is Josaia’s winning artwork. Picture: MEREONI MILI

“YOU have to struggle first in order to reach your goals.”

These were the words of Josaia Mateiwai, a self-taught artist who was one of the four winners of USP’s 50th anniversary visual arts competition.

Mateiwai received his prize as USP celebrates a week-long ‘We are the Ocean: Heritage and Arts Festival’.

The 37-year-old said: “I have been slowly entering competitions and doing private orders so I’m very happy I won.”

Mateiwai comes from a family of artists.

His late father and brother are also self-taught artists.

“My interest in art started from early childhood because my dad and my brother were self-taught artists and I learned from them,” he said.

The Nadroga native works at Sigavou Studio in Nadi, which is owned by local artist Maria Rova.

“I was in the tourism industry until two years ago and then I left the industry and moved to art because it has always been my passion.”

Mateiwai uses cheap and environment-friendly materials for his pieces.

“The piece I did is a totally new concept for me because all the products are recycled except the paint,” he said.

Mateiwai’s plan is to venture into new ways to present his pieces and use more recycled products.

His advice to aspiring artists in the country is to pursue the passion that they have and try to reach their goals.

“There will definitely be obstacles where people will be saying that art is not an option for employment but it is and everything will come with struggle,” he said.

The art competition was held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of USP, and was centered around the theme: “Celebrating the Pacific, Shaping its Future”.