I became a board member of Dialogue Fiji (DF) sometime between July and September, 2009 as one of the two government representatives who were initially involved with DF. The other government member pulled out when she went abroad for postgraduate studies. Thus began my personal and professional journey of self-discovery into an unfamiliar territory.
From the beginning of my involvement with DF, I was welcomed openly and made to feel at home. I knew many of the people on the board over a considerable length of time, knew something about their lives, their families, their work, their political and religious beliefs, many of which I shared and held close to my heart. They were individuals with excellent leadership qualities and strong views on how government should conduct its affairs. As a government representative, I was interested in listening to what they had to say.
If there is anything significant that has shifted my perspectives on life since joining DF, it is acquiring the art of listening to others, to different viewpoints, belief systems and understanding and appreciating the roots or sources of these ideas and the individuals who were expounding them. An important offshoot of this listening process is how to fuse these different ideas or viewpoints together and arrive at a common or neutral ground where solutions to our most common and critical problems can be resolved in an amicable, concrete and sustainable manner. Furthermore, I developed and improved my conversational skills.
I have taken these different ideas and viewpoints and the process of refining them and made them my own by redesigning or reshaping them and using them to resolve my own problems in my home with my immediate and extended family and relatives, in the work office situation, in the community where I reside, in the church where I worship and in dealing with my own people and their problems in the realm of the vanua. My time spent with DF has been a huge learning experience.
John Donne, the doyen of 17th century English metaphysical poetry once said something remarkable that might be relevant to the dialogue process and to paraphrase him, “no person is an island, entire of itself”. Thus, let us connect the dots in our ideas, in our thoughts and minds, in our hearts and souls and in our consciousness. Let us listen to each other, communicate our ideas, learn from the past, dissect the present, dream about the future, understand the problems that confront us, create safe spaces where we can collectively design solutions to resolve our most common and critical problems and hopefully build a better future for ourselves and our children. Nothing could be more important than that.
Dialogue in Colour: A conversation with DF committee member and youth artist Kelerayani Gavidi about her painting titled Dialogue in Colour. The painting featured on Dialogue Fiji’s 2012 calendar. 8000 copies of the calendar was distributed throughout
DF: How long did it take you to come up with the concept of the painting?
The concept took me two days to finally figure out.
DF: Can you describe the painting?
Its a painting done in acrylics. The painting highlights the colourful nature of dialogue. Dialogue is an animated as well as a serious process that requires inclusiveness and openness. Various interest groups are represented by the persons sitting in a circle. They don’t just include men, there are women and young people as well. The faces looking in from all angles are members of society and the interest groups that the main characters represent. They look hopefully to the process. Will it be effective and efficient? Dialogue can be exactly that
DF: Are there reasons for the choice of colours you’ve used in this painting?
The colours are very random, They are there to show the differences in people. I wanted something very bright and very retro to capture the eyes first and then capture the interest in the obvious dialogue.
DF: How did you feel about the finished product?
I'm happy with it.
DF: Have you ever received any formal art training if not, then how did you develop this talent/skill?
I did do a few art courses but I have always had this interest even before the training. I love art!
DF: Is this the first time your artwork has been distributed nationally through Fiji Times? If so, how did you feel about that?
In the Fiji times yes, but I have had previous art pieces produced on stamps, posters and books.
DF: As a youth representative on the committee of DF, what are your feelings about the potential of using the arts to promote dialogue particularly for youths?
I think the potential is enormous and cannot be denied! Using creative arts even in dialogue will make it interesting and it will allow for greater interpretation and understanding!
DF: Any other comments?
It was a pleasure doing this art piece for DFS.