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STREET ART- New zealand

Guess what we found in Whanganui?

-Amazing new street art!

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This mural was painted by New Zealander, Elliot Frances Stewart. It shows 'a strong female character who has adorned herself with a variety of accessories that reference moments in Whanganui's past and present.'

 

For example, the coffee mug has a 'Made in NZ' logo on it referencing the song 'Pie Cart Rock and Roll,' which was New Zealand's first homegrown rock 'n roll song written by Johnny Cooper- the Maori Cowboy, a kiwi rock 'n roll pioneer, who was known to frequent the Whanganui Pie Cart on St Hill St.

"WHANGANUI WALLS"- A STREET ART FESTIVAL

Gina Kiel, another New Zealander, created this mural. This 'head' portion of the mural reflects the time in Whanganui in 2011 when there were reported UFO sightings. "-óne eye follows you wherever you go.''

On a recent road trip through the central North Island in New Zealand, we thought we'd pop into Whanganui for coffee. The last time we had been in Whanganui was a few years back and we had had a great coffee at the modern Arts Centre building down by the river. We wandered into the Information Center to see what was new and the receptionist asked us if we'd seen the street art in town. When we replied that we didn't know that there was any street art in the area, she gave us a map and information booklet and sent us on our way. 

We were really impressed! Last Easter eight national and international artists were invited  to take part in a street art festival in Whanganui. Although there was no set theme they were given some historical information, and a four day time period to paint their murals on buildings in the downtown area,  relatively near to the Arts Centre. 

Most of the artwork did reflect some aspect of Whanganui's past or present, and this made it a more interesting display than just a set of random murals. 

 An important part of the festival was the Mentoring Programme. Seven, year 12 and 13 local artist students, were selected to be mentored by the Whanganui Wall artists and learned all about how to paint large scale outdoor works. They also created their own mural.

Claire Foxton from Australia painted this mural of two elders from the local iwi, Kataraina Millin and her Aunty Josephine Takarangi-Firmin, affectionately known as Aunty Noti. Both women are well respected and active in Whanganui  with the protection and passing down of knowledge for their people and the wider community.

Hayley Welsh created this mural. A key feature of Whanganui is the river that runs through the town. "This piece for Whanganui Walls was deeply inspired by Whanganui's unique energy and history with the well-loved verse 'I am the river and the river is me.'

 

The idea of us all being part of, not separate to nature and connected through a larger entity. It's my belief that if we use our imagination, through deeper connection with the natural world, the togetherness and bravery for new possibilities, we can find a future for us all."

Pat Perry from the USA painted this portrait of local Whanganui modernist artist, Edith Collier, who achieved success and acclaim in London where she studied and exhibited from 1913 to 1922.

 

However, on her return to the conservative community in New Zealand, she was treated harshly especially for her nude paintings. Her father burnt many of her paintings and she ended up working on the family farm and helping with child-rearing.

The words painted on the top right-hand corner of the building are very apt for this festival. They say- " By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities."-Socrates 

This street art is actually from 2013 when Shida X ENO traveled New Zealand painting a series of murals in several different towns.

Cracked Ink, one of the organizers of Whanganui Walls produced this comic book strip style of mural about scenes from some unusual and weird local stories e .g a local museum curator, who transported the carcass of a whale from Hawera to the Whanganui Museum on a train!

This is Amok Island's contribution. He has had a lifelong fascination with nature and its history with mankind. The theme of natural exploration and conservation is a strong and constant undercurrent of Amok's work.

 

This Whanganui piece of artwork depicts the native New Zealand Pokotiwha- Fiordland crested penguin. 

Cinzah is a New Zealand artist. He says "This work is about Man's connection with nature. Recognizing and honoring that we are all a part of, and are one and the same as nature. We are not separate and above, even though we often think and behave like this. The figure is fragmented apart and forced to introspectively look back at oneself, diving into its own psyche. 

 

This is a little note to peel back the layers and look inward every now and then, as well as externally to enjoy and honor our surroundings. The mural features an array of flora and fauna, with the main focus being the hero symbol of the Karearea (New Zealand falcon) a bird of prey, representing strength, focus and determination.

You can get some idea of the size of the mural by comparing it with  the size of the 'Bag Carrier" standing at the front.

On our wander around the streets in search of the street art, we came across this very impressive historic building- The Royal Whanganui Opera House, which is now over 120 years old and the last Victorian theatre still standing in New Zealand. There was an interesting variety of events being advertised and we were disappointed we wouldn't be in town to see some of them.

Thanks to Whanganui Walls for the information supplied in their programme.

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