Roimata Taimana: drawing journeys

Roimata Taimana uses drawings to express mental and physical journeys.

The musician and artist draws intricate artworks in pen, which express his own and other’s journeys.

“I’ve always been a drawer,” he explains, “I’ve been doodling since primary school. I won a couple of competitions when I was 5 or 6 years old and ever since then I’ve loved drawing. It’s taken me this long to get here, but it’s been a really nice journey.”

Roimata Taimana began his professional artistic career exhibiting works made using spray paints. He switched back to ‘doodling and drawing’ around five years ago.

He draws in black and white using V5 Hi-tech Point pens (“they’re beautiful to draw with!”). One drawing can use as many as four pens. It’s not uncommon for Roimata to work 9-hour stints, getting lost in the journey of his art.

Working in black and white enables Roimata to create more complex designs.

“The simpler the colours are, the more I can put in a drawing,” he says.

Black and white drawing by artist Roimata Taimana
Roimata Taiaman draws artworks which express his own and other’s journeys

Expressing journeys through drawing

Roimata Taimana also works for Te Korowai Hauora O Hauraki, a mental health service.

He uses drawing as a creative tool to help people explore and map their mental health journeys.

“Working in mental health is really cool because I can draw the tipuna (the story) of some of our whanau that come through mental health services.

“They come into the group meeting and give their korero on what’s happening. If something sticks with me I’ll approach them and say: look, would you like me to draw your picture for you while you journey with us?

“At the end of their term with us, they go home with their own original koha.

“People love it. It’s amazing to see their reaction, them saying: Wow, I remember this, I’ve been through all of this.
“They tell me it’s something they can sit and look at when they’re feeling down, to remind themselves: I’ve been through this already, I can get back to the light.

“I love drawing that journey for them.”

Art as a change agent

Artist Roimata Taimana with dog

Roimata Taimana’s own journey is a fascinating one and themes from his personal journey play through his artwork too.

Born in the West Auckland Titirangi region, Roimata spent time playing on the wild West Coast beaches. Then, in the early 80s, Roimata was sent to live with his adopted family in the Coromandel.

“I was living on a farm and there were thousands and millions of acres of bush to play in. That was our playground.

“So [my artwork] originally started with nature. I’ve lived in bush or wooded areas most of my life and I am prone to spending time in the bush.

“But since working in mental health, Maori influences on my art have come out so much more.

“I went for training to become a Mataora at the mental health service Te Korowai. Mataora is a change agent, but it is also the Mataora Moko – the tattoo. And since working with Te Korowai I’ve had my Mataora Moko done. Things have really changed since then and these themes have started to come out. It’s really exciting.”

Now living in Kuaotunu, a small town on the Coromandel Peninsula, Roimata looks forward to where his art will take him next.

“A billboard worth forty four thousand million dollars?” (He jokes), “An award, for being THAT guy?”

“Wherever my art takes me, it’s good, so long as people get to see it and travel in it. That would make me happy, if they can find a piece of their lives in my art work and relate to it, I’m pretty happy with that. That’s awesome. They say sharing is caring!”

Roimata Taimana art exhibition

The Ivy Box gallery’s ‘New Beginnings’ exhibition will be the South Island’s first opportunity to see Roimata Taimana’s work.

Roimata met Ivy Box Director and Curator Lynda Hensman in the Coromandel. Drawn to his authentic style, she invited him to join the special exhibition.

“To be honest, I’m shitting myself about the exhibition,” he laughs.

“But in saying that, one of the young artists also at the exhibition is part of my valley whanau. Hana does beautiful artwork and I’m stoked she’ll be there with us.

“I am absolutely honoured to be a part of this. Lynda’s a lovely lady and I’m so privileged to be part of this journey with her.”

Join Roimata Taimana and other selected artists at The Ivy Box gallery’s re-opening exhibition.

‘New Beginnings’ marks the opening of the re-imagined and lovingly restored gallery space on 17th September 2021.