Ruth Robertson Taylor and Ian Taylor with students from 6 Karori schools
This mural was developed by professional artists Ruth Robertson Taylor and Ian Taylor in collaboration with students from six Karori Schools – Samuel Marsden Collegiate, St Teresa’s, Cardinal McKeefry, Makara Model, Karori Normal and Karori West – and with advice and guidance from the Mural Steering Group comprising representatives from Karori's wider community.
Ruth and Ian workshopped with the school students brainstorming ideas for the mural and investigating renowned NZ artist and Karori resident, Mervyn Taylor’s practice. The first thing that came to the students when thinking about their suburb was birds! Students also mentioned prominent built features like the tunnel, windmill, library and Futuna Chapel. Karori’s Māori history was discussed too, as it is widely believed to be a place that iwi travelled through to hunt for food. Students also talked of internationally renowned Wellington author Katherine Mansfield who grew up in Karori.
Ruth and Ian wove all those aspects – birds, architecture and people – into a design that tells the tale of Karori from its past to the present.
The design incorporates three painted layers. The first layer comprises large fluid grey forms that are directly inspired by shapes in many of Mervyn Taylor’s murals. They act as receptacles for the student’s work, which Ruth has superimposed in cream paint, taking care not to lose the authenticity of the student’s work.
The next layer is a series of huge, brightly coloured native birds often seen in Karori. While most of the birds are block colours, two have been rendered in black and white in more detail. These directly acknowledge and celebrate the work of Mervyn Taylor and Katherine Mansfield.
The final layer depicts Karori’s architectural features in gold and black and two quotes, one from Katherine Mansfield that reads: "I want to be all that I am capable of becoming", and another from Mervyn Taylor: "As an artist I aspire to become a craftsman, and as a craftsman I aspire to become an artist".