Vaimaila Urale is an Auckland-based artist who was born in Fagamolo (Samoa) and grew up in Wellington after arriving in New Zealand as a young child. Vaimaila graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Auckland University of Technology. She works across a range of new media including video, installation and performance-based art and is a founding member of Auckland art collective D.A.N.C.E Art Club (formed in 2008). Her experimental works often include social and collaborative aspects. Vaimaila frequently teams up
Vaimaila’s diverse projects encourage interaction and engage viewers in innovative ways. For Digital Art Live at Auckland’s Aotea Centre in 2012 Vaimaila created ‘Typeface’ in collaboration with Johann Nortje from Interrupt collective. The interactive work allowed the viewer’s physical movements in front of the screen to activate layers of patterning created using basic keyboard characters, motifs and symbols. Vaimaila’s distinct patterns, which reference traditional Samoan art forms such as of tatau (tattoo) and tapa, have also featured on a large-scale mural and on peoples bodies during a live tattoo event as part of the Whau Arts Festival in 2015 (in collaboration with tattoo artist Chris Amosa, curator Allan Haewengand and art collective Copyleft). As well as her interactive works Vaimaila also creates prints using keyboard symbols. More recently she’s developed a series of ceramic works that reference talking sticks and Lapita pottery traditions.
In Mata Mata at Mangare Arts Centre (November 2012 - Feb 2013) Vaimaila collaborated with artist Rangituhia Hollis to create a participatory project which included four pool tables, eight intricately carved pool cues and an interactive video. In a review of the exhibition Anna Loren said “audiences are encouraged to select their ‘weapon of choice’ and challenge their friends to a game of pool with a difference. ‘It's all about social engagement and placing gallery visitors into the work … I’m really interested in challenging audiences' ideas of what art is,’ [Vaimaila] says.” The works were produced after the artists researched Maori and Pacific weapon collections stored in the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The term ‘Mata Mata' translates to face to face and the artists took their inspiration from competitive game play, dance and battle traditions of Maori and Pacific Island cultures. For Mata Mata and Mata Mata 2.0 (part of Matariki Festival, July 2014) Vaimaila and Rangituhia collaborated with programmer Taura Greig to create a virtual performer that responding to audience members coming into proximity of the screen.
Vaimaila has participated in diverse exhibitions and art events in Public Art Galleries, Community Galleries, Arts Festivals and public spaces, including Mangere Arts Centre, The Dowse, the Whau Arts Festival (2015) and Embed, Sanderson Contemporary Art, 2016. As part of D.A.N.C.E Art Club Vaimaila has collaborated with a number of arts organisations, including Artspace, Enjoy Art Gallery, Letting Space, Papakura Art Gallery, Snake Pit, RM and ST PAUL St Gallery. In 2012 they presented a commissioned project at Next Wave Festival in Melbourne and participated in The Wellington Collaboratorium. In the same year The Club set up a mobile radio station to broadcast community activity as part of Erupt Festival Taupo.