Lonnie completed her Bachelor of Design from Unitec in 1997, which was later followed by her Master of Design. As well as a prolific exhibiting career both nationally and internationally, Lonnie has been awarded a number of international residencies and has made work for numerous large scale public commissions. In 2015 Lonnie was awarded the Creative New Zealand Pasifika Contemporary Artist Award. Lonnie’s work also belongs in a number of international private and public collections including the Auckland Art Gallery, Christchurch Art Gallery, Banff, Canada, The Dowse Art
Drawing lies at the base of Lonnie’s practice, which is as much influenced by contemporary advertising and popular culture as by Polynesian aesthetics and art forms, juxtaposing negative and positive elements. Her works are also informed by the rich cultural resources of her Polynesian heritage. Lonnie’s signature works comprise of decorative cut-outs made from black builders paper, which pay homage to Pacific women and their traditional arts such as siapo, tivaevae and weaving. Maori kowhaiwhai, koru motifs, Polynesian designs and frangipani forms alternate with pigeon cut-outs or ‘Scary Spice’ like silhouettes. These decorations create a delicate interplay of space, light and shadow expressing socio/political/gender and cultural concerns.
In her performance, installation and animation works Lonnie acknowledges the way our environmental, architectural, social and domestic spaces are defined and formalised, informing and defining our actions. In her Black Pearl animation, a cut-out curtain creates a window or peep show, where the viewer becomes voyeur. Similarly her first animation Red uses patterns moving at space invader speed as a metaphor for ‘early beginnings’ and the place of Papatuanuku as mother earth. Recent animations explore the potential of augmented reality, rendering pigeons in flight. As a sacred and spiritual symbol the pigeon commemorates Lonnie’s journey to the ritual and divinatory site of the tia seu lupe (Samoa) and the intimate relationship between her cultural and spiritual experience and ongoing enquiry.
Lonnie has exhibited in a number of group and solo exhibitions including: Black Bird, Gus Fisher Gallery, 2015; Steal Paper Acrylic, Snowwhite Gallery, 2010; My Mother, Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch, 2009; Pasifika Styles, University of Cambridge Museum, UK, 2006-2008; L’Art Urbain du Pacifique (Urban Art from the Pacific), Castle of Saint-Aurent, Limousin, France, 2005; Samoa Contemporary, Pataka, Porirua, 2008 and This Show Is What I Do, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2005; Coconut Dreams, SoFA Gallery, Christchurch, 2000. Lonnie also regularly contributes to collective art projects including TRANS VERSA (2006) in Santiago, Chile and collaborated with students from HITLabNZ (Human Interface Technology Laboratory), University of Canterbury in 2005. Lonnie is represented by Jonathan Smart Gallery in Christchurch and Bartley and Company Art in Wellington.