27 May 2016 - Last week I touched on the power of art in public spaces, where community participation brings real ownership and pride. I wanted to share a little more of this magic with another recent success out in our community.
Over the past few years, the Selwyn Height’s shopping complex had assumed a run-down, graffiti-ridden state and local residents were concerned this gave a feeling of intimidation and abandonment. It really was a mess.
The solution represented an opportunity to form a partnership between local schools, community, police, shop owners and council.
To kick the project off I met with Kea St Specialist School and worked with the children to create a series of mural designs. Very soon after we all spent a warm sunny day painting the artwork directly on to the north-facing (Kea Street) wall. The result is absolutely stunning – it’s vibrant, colourful and friendly.
The community is extremely protective of this first mural, and I suspect that given its origins and heartwarming appeal, this wall will remain graffiti-free for a very long time. Check it out next time you’re over that way – we’re all very proud of it.
Working with Selwyn Primary School and Kaitao intermediate, two more murals were installed on the south-facing (Quarry road) wall, Police and Schools assisted with beautification plantings, and the project was complete.
Or at least that’s what I thought.
Until a week later when I discover community member Gina Hunt has responded to the artwork by finding a large bucket of paint and singlehandedly transforming the entire front of the shopping complex - including signwriting (a previously undiscovered talent) completely free of charge. Gina’s self-initiated response truly demonstrates how community driven art can motivate and inspire.
Western Heights Shopping Centre now looks fantastic. It’s welcoming, it’s vibrant, and it celebrates a community rich in colour, talent, identity and pride.
Nice work team.