Kim Subritzky (art teacher), input from whole school.
Accessible to public:
Background to mural creation:
The mural was designed to create something bright, interesting and to represent the local area on their fence, which is visible from the main road into Ahipara.
This project started with Ahipara school students having a homework assignment asking them to note down and draw what they thought should be on the mural fence and why. Kim took this information and with a group of seniors they developed a plan. This took some time, as they had to measure up the fence and divide it into sections to encompass all the elements they wanted in the mural. The common theme in the student’s ideas was the environment, what they see around them and what Ahipara means to them.
The school was a central part of their ideas with their maunga, Whangatauatia, rising behind. To the left the hills and mountains continue with native birds and trees in the foreground. To the right of the school is ‘Long John Silver’, the one legged seagull who became part of the school many years ago and is present on the school logo. The mural then changes from the forestlands to the beach with a toi toi silhouette and horse. The horse was placed there specifically to make use of the existing gate. The beach continues in the background with the beach life attached to the foreground. Protected dotterel birds and chicks and an oystercatcher poke around in the rocks, and then the river, which flows along the whole length of the mural fence and flows into the sea. A panel of detailed shells decorates the fence leading towards a school of different species of fish. The shells and fish are all familiar to the students and commonly found on and around the beach/sea. The right of the fence bends around to Shipwreck Bay and Tauroa Point and then onto the deep blue sea, with a dolphin, shark and whale.
Once they had a rough plan, they started collecting image resources and doing lots of drawdown and colouring using different media – water pencils, pastels and paints. Junior students did a lot of the drawing and colour selection. Junior and senior students working together did the next part of the process. They projected the images onto plywood, enlarging and re-drawing them on. This was a fiddly process, as they needed to take paper images out to the fence site and hold them up and view them from the road to make sure they were visible and made an impact from a distance. The seniors worked in pairs using the jigsaw to cut and sand the images. This took time for them to learn the skill of cutting detailed shapes and following safety regulations. The junior students then did the base painting of the images. The next step was getting another crew to paint the mid colours and a final group of seniors to do the detail and black and white outlining and highlights.
The fence painting was fairly simple, as they just needed a basic, bold landscape to attach the images to. Although this took some time, as they had to dodge the wet weather and painting on a vertical face takes a bit of getting used to. Colour selection was important here; it needed to be bright to be seen clearly when viewed from the road.
When complete the school builder came and secured the images to the fence with the help and guidance of a group of seniors.