Sarjeant Gallery ring fence now adorned with community artwork
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Sarjeant Gallery ring fence now adorned with community artwork

Sarjeant Gallery ring fence now adorned with community artwork

James Hope braves the rain to check out the artwork on display at the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment. Photo Bevan Conley

Artworks from 248 members of the Whanganui community are now pride of place on the walls of the Sarjeant Gallery redevelopment at Pukenamu Queens Park.

The work sits alongside existing murals by renowned local artists such as Dan Mills, Mike Marsh, Cecelia Kumeroa and Si Ormerod

Ten free painting workshops were facilitated by Sarjeant education officer Sietske Jansma over October and November, and people of all ages were invited to contribute.

The theme for the project was birds, insects, flowers and plants, with 35 metres of wall to cover.

Gallery operations manager Teresa Toy said there was a “wide range” of people who attended the workshops, from pre-schoolers to grandparents.

“It’s a really nice cross section, and there was no pressure, you didn’t have to be an artist to do it,” Toy said.

“Sietske made everyone feel welcome, no matter your skill level.

Aside from the occasional cat or fairy, most of the art follows the theme of birds, plants, flowers, and insects. Photo Bevan Conley

“You go up and have a look and your eye gets drawn to all these different paintings, and certain ones just jump out at you. There are information panels, but it (the wall) is something that’s really attractive to look at from a distance or close-up.

“People do still wander up there to look at the building.”

The art was pre-drilled and hung on the wall over two days, after the Sarjeant’s assistant curator James Hope had given the sections a wash and a paint.

“Some people strayed from the criteria (birds, plants, insects, flowers), and there are quite a few abstract ones in there,” Hope said.

Toy said different people’s interpretation of a brief was “the great part of a community project”.

“As much as we’ve tried to guide them one way, it’s their interpretation of it at the end of the day.

“There’s a grasshopper that’s hiding behind a bush, there are worms in mud, tuis, ladybugs, it’s just beautiful.”

The artwork will remain in place until the Sarjeant Gallery is reopened in 2023.



Mike Tweed is a multimedia journalist at the Whanganui Chronicle

This article was first seen in the Whanganui Chronicle and NZ Herald online on 26 December 2020