Tep Tok : Reading Between Our Lines

For many a Pacific Islander, tattoos are a mark of one's identity - a reminder of one's heritage and a visual story to carry on their skin.
The art of tattooing has travelled the world over and while its popularity has continued strongly into contemporary culture today, the awareness of the traditional practices of tattooing in Central Province, Papua New Guinea is dwindling.
Tep Tok is a documentary aimed at changing this situation.
The documentary follows four women of PNG and Australian descent as they explore tattooing traditions on a journey, which takes them from Australia and across the Pacific.
This life-changing journey for the four filmmakers takes the viewer through Pasifika cultures with the hope to breathe life back into the dying art worn by their grandmothers. 
Tep Tok aims to bring light to a vanishing practice; to reinvent what has been lost.

  • Julia Gray
  • Julia Gray
    Key Cast
  • Natalie Richards
    Key Cast
  • Ranu James
    Key Cast
  • Paia Ingram
    Key Cast
  • James Mangohig
    Sound Production
  • Matthew Cunliffe
    Sound Production
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
    Culture, Tattoo
  • Runtime:
    59 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 28, 2015
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Australia, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Northern Centre for Contemporary Art
    Darwin NT, Australia
    April 4, 2015
    Australian Premiere
Director Biography - Julia Gray

“From old to new old, that's the way we go forward…” Since graduating from the University of Adelaide with an Honours degree in Dance, creative expression has come in the form of different media and for myself as a Pasifika artist; it is in the diverse realms of dance, film, photography, music and tattoo.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Passionate about reinvigorating our womens central tattoo designs. So our men can wear our Bubu's tattoos as well.

Admiration for my Bubu. She was strong, beautiful and hardworking. If only to have this small part of her tapped on my skin is just a small measure of how much i admire her quiet but in no means silent power.

Driven to share and inspire pride in our Pacific ways. My belief that no matter how diluted our traditions may become over time that we can maintain and develop the arts practices of our unique Pacific cultures.

My Bubu was tattooed. Her gift to me is what i share with you so you may know the story of our women.