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Jessica Palalagi Square BW

Jessica Palalagi

Arts Foundation General Manager
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Born in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Jessica traces her ancestry to Niue/Nukututaha in Te Moananui a Kiwa and Aberdeen, Scotland. She has an MA in Art History from Auckland University where she focused on contemporary Maori and Pasifika art.

She moved to London in 2004 where she worked in various industries including a 4 year span co-ordinating the support of a High Net-worth Individual and their families. She has most recently been involved in sustainability, the circular economy, innovation and inclusion for Marks & Spencer. She was the Sustainability Lead there for 7 years, and Co-Chair of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) network. Throughout this time she was also a contributor to workshops held by the Cambridge University Institute of Sustainable Leadership.

She is also one of the founders of In*ter*is*land Collective; a misfit collection of tagata Moana aunties, activists and artists based both in London, UK and Aotearoa. They were in residence at Raven Row Gallery in London for 3 years and are currently working with Paisley Museum reimagining the Moana gallery, they have previously been involved in hosting artists that featured in the Oceania show at the Royal Academy in London as well as the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. Through her involvement in the Collective she has been able to contribute as a guest lecturer for the MA Art and Politics programme at Goldsmiths University in London.

At the end of 2020, she returned to Aotearoa and has been involved in curating exhibitions, growing her network with artists and consulting in the capability space for social enterprises with Ākina Foundation.

In her words; she is made of the saltiness of all moanas (oceans) spanning hemispheres, the journeys that her ancestors navigated, the movements of dark to light made by the mahina (moon), the languages that have been lost, the strength of the matriarchs before her and the music of Barry White.