Our Wellington

News | 11 November 2020

Eco-themed library mural up for award

How would you draw the wind, the sound of a bird, the marks they leave on the sand?

A floor-to-ceiling mural, featuring bright colours and nature-inspired shapes like bird footprints, alongside the stairwell at Te Awe Library.

These were some of the questions put to Pōneke primary school pupils, who then put pencil, crayon, and chalk to paper.

Their drawings were then turned into the vast, colourful and expressive designs that make up the wall murals in Te Awe Library.

This creative and collaborative project – between Clyde Quay School, Kelburn Normal School, and Wellington City Council’s Creative and Brand Team – has been named a finalist in the 2020 Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards.

Nominated in the Environmental Graphics category, Designer Katie Bevin says the project adopted its ‘nature’ theme following the naming of the library, located in Wellington’s CBD on Brandon Street.

“Te Awe means white feathers – the name was gifted to the library by the local iwi – so we came up with the concept of New Zealand birds and feathers. Then we worked with the kids to come up with a series of marks and artworks around those words.

“We held workshops where we gave the children a range of media including paints, paper, and charcoal, which were all set up on different tables, and they had a minute to draw things like a print that a bird might leave on the ground, the wind, the sounds the birds make.”

The Creative and Brand Team then took the children’s artworks back to their studio and set to work, scanning the drawings into computers and fitting them together to come up with a composition the team was happy with.

“We utilised the various textures and marks and explored how they could be magnified but retain their authenticity. We blew them up really big and came up with a range of compilations, which are laid out around the building to work in with the different coloured floor tiles.”

Katie says because Te Awe Library has one of the larger children’s collection of all the Wellington libraries, it made sense to have kids at the heart of the project.

Four children from a Wellington primary school sitting at a table, drawing nature-inspired shapes on large pieces of white paper. These drawings inspired the designs on Wellington City Council's wall murals at Te Awe Library.

Creative and Brand’s Design Lead Chris Mitchell says it was a delight working with the youngsters.

“They were spontaneous and inquisitive, and they offered a unique perspective. They brought a neat interpretation and there’s a nice parallel between their positivity and the new space.”

Chris says the new library, which opened in July, provided an opportunity for his team to try something a bit different.

“We often collaborate as a team, but to get out there and engage with the community – especially young people – was something really new and exciting for us. It just felt right for this project.”

He says it was a rewarding experience for all involved and it is humbling to have the project selected a finalist in the Best Design Awards, which are being held on 13 November.

“For our design team, the variety of work we get to undertake is incredible, but we’re incredibly lucky to have been able to work on a project like this. It’s lovely to now be back in the library with people using the space, surrounded by this collaborative artwork and the atmosphere it’s created.”