A True and Strange Story
The life of Teuane Ann Tibbo – Artist 1895-1984 by Audie Pennefather

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A True and Strange Story  The life of Teuane Ann Tibbo – Artist 1895-1984 by Audie Pennefather 

Product details
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Audie Pennefather
ISBN: 9780646538938
Trim size: 148 x 210 mm

This story is about the take-over of the 3000 year old Kingdom of Samoan Islands in the late 1800’s by the Germans, United States of America and Britain. The Samoan native dates back before the Roman Empire.  Many famous world writers like Robert Louis Stevenson, Paul Gauguin and many other famous artists visited there in the late 1890’s.
This true story is about the life of a beautiful young 15 year old Samoan girl of royal blood, named Teuane Ann Wiliams .Teuane (pronounced with soft e and a), Te-u-ane Ann Tibbo was born in Vaimea, Samoa in 1895. A rumour circulated in Samoa that she was the secret child of famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived in Samoa from 1889 until his death in 1894.  Her fathers name was Fuamatu Niusila Williams and her mother was Sesilia  Moemau’u  Satele. They lived in a Fale’ (House) made of bamboo and coconut leaves.  
This true, exciting, passionate, and humorous story, describes how a young beautiful uneducated native girl, could climb to the heights she grew into through all the years in her life by adapting to the changes of the complete defeat she faced, when she married a German baron. A few years later Teuane shot him and was imprisoned for a short period. She married a British Naval officer a year later. They lived through a remarkable interesting life. When she was 69 years old, her daughter taught her how to paint in oils. After two months and 20 large paintings, she became world famous in the year 1964. She is known as “Teuane ,Grandma Moses of the South Pacific.”      

About the Author:
Audie Marie Pennefather nee Tibbo was born at Levuka Fiji in 1928. She was educated at St. Joseph De Cluny in Suva and later Brains Business College, Auckland, New Zealand. Audi left Fiji to study voice, music and further her education. In 1948 she married British Army Officer Captain Dereck Raymond Ankers, 14th Army Royal Engineers. She sang professionally, taught herself to paint in oils, participated in community work, and taught etiquette and deportment to adults and children. She was full a time radio announcer for station 2ZA Palmerston North. After becoming a widow with eight children Audie married per present husband of forty-four years Milton Bruce Pennefather, and they have one son.
In 1977, she stood as the Labour candidate for the Tamaki Electorate in Auckland against Robert Muldoon, then Prime Minister of New Zealand, and successfully reducing his majority. In 1979 she moved to Sydney and 1981 became an Australian Citizen. She became P.A. to the Secretary of the Chamber of Manufacturers of NSW then with the public service State Pollution Control Commission “DO THE RIGHT THING” campaign.

Audie and Bruce retired to Tweed Heads in 1991, both became members of Lions International. In 1977, Audie was supporting actor in a TV series “Roar” starring Heath Ledger in the lead role “Connor”.
Both Audie and Bruce are avid Bridge players. Audie is the mother of a family of nine children, nineteen grandchildren and at present twenty-one great grandchildren.

The Fine Arts Library has recently received a copy of A True & Strange Story: the life of Teuane Ann Tibbo, artist 1895 -1984 written by her daughter Audie M. Pennefather (2009). This self-published biography chronicles the life of Tibbo whose naïve or self-taught paintings helped her come to prominence in the Auckland art scene of the mid-1960s.  You can find three examples of her work in the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery, and many art galleries and libraries throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Mrs Tibbo had a full and eventful life before she took up painting at the age of 69. The following excerpt describes the crime passionel which resulted in the death of her first husband and a prison term for Teuane.

I felt I was fainting. My mind stopped. I could not breathe! I screamed, and screamed. I reached for the gun against the wall and fired. Willie screamed in agony, moaning in pain… (p. 118)
I slowly tied my horse’s bridle around the branch of a small tree… took off my straw hat and crawled up to the flat-top rock – and curling my legs up, I wrapped my riding skirt around my ankles. I looked upwards, to see the blue sky through the trees branches swaying to-and-fro. The quiet sounds from the streams running water put me to sleep. I kept waking up and thinking of Willie, praying no one would find me. I wanted to die right there on the rock, and meet him as a white butterfly wherever he was (Pennefather, 2009, p. 121).

Teuane married her second husband Edward Victor Tibbo in 1920 and moved from Fiji to New Zealand in 1946. Interestingly, Tibbo only began painting in her late sixties.  Her vibrant canvases are described in an insightful article by Bronwyn Fletcher as having a “rich jewel-like impasto surface” (2002-2003, p. 82). During her brief but influential career she exhibited with a number of mainstream established artists such as Michael Illingworth, Pat Hanly, Tony Fomison and Nigel Brown.

One of Mrs Tibbo's works entitled Samoan Village Scene is held in The University of Auckland Art Collection, as well as art galleries and museums throughout the world. A copy of A True & Strange Story was accepted by the United States of American Congress Library in Washington.

While A True & Strange Story does not specifically focus on her art, this book remains a valuable piece of family research. It provides context and insight into the motivations of the artist and her art practice, and Pennefather’s idiosyncratic writing style delightfully captures the voice of Mrs Tibbo.
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