From the Resene Total Colour Awards gallery of entries
New Zealand telecommunications infrastructure company Chorus have developed the cabinet art project as a way to combat vandalism of their cabinets, by commissioning artists to transform the dull beige or green metal boxes with murals. Working in conjunction with the Dunedin City Council, Chorus issued a call for artists to submit designs that fit the local environment and reflect the local community, which were then subject to a selection process involving nearby business and homeowners, as well as resource consent.
Over the past three years, Chorus has commissioned Andy McCready to paint four of these cabinets, the latest two are a complementary pair that share a similar design principle and aesthetic dialogue: the key words in the conversation being ‘retro’ and ‘nostalgia.’
‘St Clair Summer’ is a stylised depiction of the laidback St Clair beach culture remembered from childhood, full of ice-creams, sandcastles and sun. Evoking a carefree, vintage beach aesthetic, this mural combines elements of nostalgia for the typical Kiwi summer (jandals, surfboards, Kombi van), with unique identifiers of the St Clair beach area (the Hydro building, Cargill’s Castle, the groynes, the shark bell).
‘Sure to Rise’ is a whimsical celebration of Kiwiana in all its glory, a distinctly New Zealand aesthetic that revels in the kitsch value of popular culture. Referencing those familiar icons we all know the design incorporates aspects of décor (ceramic flying ducks, Crown Lynn Swans, woven flax), food (tomato sauce bottle, kiwifruit, chocolate fish, lamington and Edmonds baking powder) and symbols of New Zealand heritage (ferns, the Swanndri, the Anzac poppy).
Andy selected a vibrant yet carefully limited colour palette for each, to create a decidedly retro feel that lends itself to the subject matter depicted. In terms of structure, both cabinets are divided into three sections vertically and horizontally, and colour is used as a compositional device to achieve a sense of balance.
‘St Clair Summer’ uses a striking juxtaposition of complementary hues: orange (Resene Ecstasy) and turquoise (Resene Hippie Blue), loosely representing the sun and sea of the beach. These brighter colours are subdued with a gentle peach (Resene Karry) and two shades of grey (Resene Geyser and Resene Steel Grey), as well as the appropriately named Resene Sand for details such as the sandcastle and Resene Milk Chocolate for the flake.
When choosing colours from the Resene range, decisions were swayed by the serendipity of the paint name; what better background for a beach scene with a Kombi van than Resene Hippie Blue?
‘Sure to Rise’ features a colour scheme that offsets the greens and browns of the natural environment (Resene Green Smoke and Resene Milk Chocolate) with the more pop-inflected palette of the man-made, a heady blend of confectionary, packaging and mass production (Resene Havoc, Resene Bardot and Resene Ecstasy). These were teamed with Resene Navarone, Resene Bush, Resene Pearl Lusta, Resene Black and Resene White. The aim was to create the overall effect of décor borrowed from a 1960s bach - a colour scheme that recalls an earlier era, but rather than being dated, seems to once again be on trend.
The main challenge came in developing designs that met the brief of being reflective of the local community, while remaining true to Andy’s own style. Resene’s vibrant colour range were ideal to brighten up the dull cabinets, but Andy was mindful that the colour schemes also had to be somewhat sympathetic to the outdoor environment, and that the imagery should have broad appeal across varying age groups and other such demographics.
The changeable Dunedin weather conditions meant contending with rain and snow, and even a few days of sun so hot that the metal cabinet couldn’t be touched. Coupled with painting in public and the inevitable interest it sparks from curious passers-by, the cabinets proved to be very much a ‘stop/start’ project. From pausing a few times in the middle of a tricky section to answer some questions as the paint dried on the brush, to the weather suddenly deteriorating and forcing pack up, Andy resigned herself to the fact that she didn’t have much control over things, and that it would take as long as it took.
Both cabinets were painted entirely with Resene Lumbersider, selected for its range of colours, durability and easy clean-up. Because relatively small amounts of many colours were needed, the Resene testpots were the perfect choice.
In addition to artist-grade brushes, the small Resene roller and tray packs were handy to lay down backgrounds and larger sections of colour quickly.