Artists Rachel Silver and Olivier Kenneybrew (aka Polar) collaborated on the design and installation of a series of artworks in and around the Terrace Gardens, a small green space on Flagstaff Hill.
Their work was informed and inspired by conversations with local residents. There is a lot of love for this space. The residents spoke mostly of it as a quiet, green sanctuary on the fringe of the city.
The project came about in response to residents wanting to reactivate the space, make it safer and encourage more people to go there.
Silver designed a mosaic work based on stories she heard about the various uses of the park over the years as a children’s playground, a quiet reflective space, a place to perform and a site of passive protest. She was also inspired by the Flagstaff Hill Residents Association Flag, which depicts the sun as a yellow ball rising over green hills into the blue sky.
The central figure of the mosaic is a meditating jester. This figure was taken from a photo of one of Flagstaff Hill’s prominent residents, Ralph Pannet who used to dress and perform as a jester-clown.
Jesters are not typically associated with meditation or quiet pursuits. Here, however, the jester embodies the history of this space, which has seen many different activities and eras. He is surrounded by Manuka, Kanuka, Kowhai and Harakeke flowers and birds, Tui and Kaka, and Monarch butterflies – celebrating the life that makes this space a sanctuary.
Olivier Kenneybrew was also inspired by the design of the flag. The bright yellow sun is a recurring symbol in his mural work. He also drew on geometric shapes and colours in the environment to create a design with intersecting forms and bold contrasting colours that draw you into the space.
Silver and Kenneybrew collaborated on a large abstract work along the entrance wall to the gardens. They layered tile over paint to make a mural that pops from the wall and plays with form and colour in a way that has never been done in Wellington city. The outcome is a work that that enlivens and celebrates the space.