Andy Leleisi’uao grew up in Mangere, South Auckland. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and has had eighty five solo exhibitions to date including numerous group exhibitions. In 2017, he won the prestigious Wallace Art Award. Andy is represented by Artis Gallery in Auckland.
‘I’ll tell you a story. There’s an island-born Samoan grandmother who is very much loved and respected amongst her family and friends. She is a faithful servant of God and Church. Her two children have degrees and careers. Although suffering from arthritis and angina she continued to work as a cleaner at Mangere Town Centre ASB five days a week. Her daughter or son helped on seperate days. They wiped the inside and outside windows, vacuumed the rooms, and cleaned the customer counters. She would always double-check they had done their work properly. She cleaned the teller counters, desks and kitchen. The one room she refused her children to clean was the toilet. She never allowed them in, conjuring excuses every time like it needed a special cleaning mixture that she never shared. One day her children stopped asking. They realised , despite her aching joints and tiredness, her age and soreness, in her own humble way she was still protecting them. This was dignity. This was fa’afetai Samoa. Not long afterwards she experienced a stroke and survived a heart operation. Today she continues to serve her God, church and family but I think she battled and overcame her adversities on the pure will of wanting to embrace her grandchildren again. This is alofa. This is my mother.’ (Leleisi’uao, 2009)
‘My work only exists because of my family.’