Local history celebrated with new mural in Mt Cook

9 May 2020

Work will start on a new Sheyne Tuffery mural on the retaining wall of Wallace Street this Monday – supporting local art and a range of small businesses, celebrating the area’s natural heritage and adding more vibrancy to the community.

Rongotai College students at launch of subway mural

Sheyne with Rongotai College students and Paul Tobin with previous mural project in Kilbirnie

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Mount Cook resident Sheyne has wanted to paint at this site for the past ten years, but the traffic management would have proved complicated and costly.

The opportunity came when Wallace Street was closed for the Wellington Water pipelines project, so he started working with the community and the Wellington City Council’s City Arts team to bring the project to fruition.

Sheyne also consulted with Mana Whenua to ensure tikanga Te Atiawa and to produce a site specific design.

“I was inspired by the precolonial history of this site and what it might have been like 500 years ago. After contacting Mana Whenua and reviewing cultural impact reports I learned that this area was once a rich food cultivation site.

“I believe the timing is right too, as the work will celebrate the area’s natural heritage at a time when many of us are thinking about what we value and how we move forward into the future,” says Sheyne.

The mural will depict a lush garden with giant native birds as guardians, fish signifying the waterways beneath and giant Totara connecting the garden to the vast green belt that once framed the harbour.

The project was put on hold due to Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown restrictions, but now it’s possible to start with strict guidelines in place.  Public art will play an important role in the city while the Covid-19 situation continues to unfold, says Councillor Nicola Young, who leads the Arts, Culture and Events portfolio.

“The arts and events sector has taken a huge hit over the past six weeks and that will carry on. It’s great to be able to support an artist, and to advocate for art in communities and continue to deliver projects that fit our city’s arts and culture strategy and the public art policy during this difficult time.

“Public art has the ability to regenerate activity – adding life and vibrancy to areas, drawing people in and enabling discussion or reflection. This is important now more than ever.”

Funding has come from the Council’s Art on Walls Fund and Public Art Fund, as well as Council’s graffiti prevention team, CNZ Creative Communities Scheme and Resene Sponsorship.

Public art has many benefits in the city, including beautifying the city, supporting the creative community, promoting a sense of pride and protectiveness in a neighbourhood, and deterring unwanted tagging, says Mayor Andy Foster.

“As someone with a deep love for the natural environment and for history, I am really looking forward to seeing Sheyne’s work add some real vibrancy, nature and history to this already colourful inner city suburb. It will be another part of telling the stories of our place, and our people.

“A number of small businesses are involved with the creation of the mural too, particularly in the preparation stages, so we’re pleased to be supporting this important project for many reasons,” adds the Mayor.

Wellington Water has a traffic management plan that covers Wallace Street and the surrounding network of streets.

Contractors, SB Maintenance will clean and undercoat the wall in preparation for mural painting. This work begins from 8am on Monday 11 May for up to three days.

Local residents have been asked not to park near the retaining wall, and to find alternative parking for the duration. 

Limited parking is available on the network of streets surrounding Wallace Street; and parking at Te Whaea and Toi Whakaari, the New Zealand School of Dance and Drama off Hutchison Road, is available for these three days only.

As soon as SB Maintenance has finished the preparation work Sheyne will access the site and begin painting the mural. He will paint in sections, moving from the centre to the right of the wall to begin with, then from the centre out to the left (John Street end). Parking spaces will be cordoned off accordingly.

Sheyne will work from 8.30am-5pm Monday to Friday, and 10am-4pm on Saturday – weather permitting.

Mural painting will take up to four weeks, weather dependent, and will be completed in time for the reopening of this section of Wallace Street. It will be graffiti guarded to protect it.