Sylvie Currin’s Kaitāia mural wins Keep NZ Beautiful award

Kaitāia artist Sylvie Currin with her mural Kauri, Spirit of Resilience that was a winner in Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s Resene Nature Mural Competition.

A Kaitāia artist hopes her Banksy-inspired, award-winning mural will inspire the area’s youth to take care of their environment.

Sylvie Currin’s mural Kauri, Spirit of Resilience was one of 10 winners in the Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s Resene Nature Mural Competition and the artwork is now adorning a once-tired looking wall on Ward Lane, behind Kaitāia’s Hospice Shop.

Northlander Terri Donaldson, from Maungaturoto, was another winner with her work The Creatures of Kaipara.

Currin, originally from the Czech Republic, was inspired by the Māori proverb ‘I orea te tuatara ka puta ki waho – A problem is solved by continuing to find solutions’ for her entry into the competition and thought she’d also use a bit of Banksy-style stencil art to give it added impact.

“This (proverb) profoundly resonates with me – it encapsulates a spirit of resilience, a push to persevere in the face of adversity, something we all can relate to in challenging times. Drawn towards its encouraging message, I felt inspired to incorporate this idea into a design meant to reinvigorate one of Kaitāia’s neglected and weather-beaten walls I frequently pass by,’’ she said.

The mural is painted in the style of renowned UK artist Banksy and illustrates children working together to plant a kauri tree with the words ‘from small beginnings come great things’.

“With this symbolic image, I wish to convey that even small acts have profound value and can bring positive change. I’ve chosen to draw inspiration from Banksy to resonate with a younger audience, instilling in them this powerful yet simple narrative of action and impact.

“I have really enjoyed working on my mural of children planting a kauri tree. It was a great privilege to have an opportunity to create an artwork of encouragement and hope in our community. I wish that this simple message, delivered in street art style, would inspire passers-by to nurture life and the environment.’’

A striking part of the mural is that it also uses an older, faded promotional artwork that was first put on the rough wall in about 1963, of a vehicle battery. She said this was part of why she wanted to use the wall as it also went back to part of the town’s history.

Kaitāia artist Sylvie Currin’s mural Kauri, Spirit of Resilience, that has been painted on the back of the town’s Hospice Shop with the aim of inspiring youngsters to take care of the environment.
Kaitāia artist Sylvie Currin’s mural Kauri, Spirit of Resilience, that has been painted on the back of the town’s Hospice Shop with the aim of inspiring youngsters to take care of the environment.

“There was a workshop here originally and that was painted on there about 1963 and I thought it would be good for the background, so I really wanted to keep that part of it. The feedback from people has been wonderful and really positive and I hope it can inspire others to take an interest in and look after the environment.’’

Currin said she really enjoyed working on the Banksy-inspired mural of children planting a kauri tree, with the black-and-white stencil work standing out.

“Thank you so much to all of the people who supported me and to the outstanding typographer Helena Santava for her typeset. Thanks to the wonderful locals who cheered me on while I was battling an uneven wall and heights on scaffolding. I wish that this simple message, delivered in graffiti-like style, would inspire passers-by to nurture life and environment.’’

Winning artists in the awards received a $1000 commission once the mural is completed, along with a $750 Resene paint voucher and other materials.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson said the competition provides a great opportunity for artists to beautify their local communities.

“The beautification of public spaces greatly benefits communities by increasing civic pride, deterring vandalism and reducing anti-social behaviour such as littering and graffiti.

“We were impressed with the dozens of high-calibre entries we received, so much so that narrowing the selection to just 10 winners was a tough task. We’re thrilled to see the end result of Sylvie’s mural coming to life.’’

It’s not the first Keep New Zealand Beautiful award for the Far North, with Kaitāia and Awanui winning major awards in recent years.

Other winners in the awards were:

Terri Donaldson (Maungaturoto): The Creatures of Kaipara

Brigita Botma (Coromandel Town): Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute

Mel Eaton (Christchurch): Floating with Whio

Natasha Fitzpatrick (Auckland): Protect Us

Stan Mans (Hastings): Breath of Life

Melisa Nocelli (Arrowtown): Where Wildlife Matters

Kiran Parbhu (Wellington): The Birds and the Bees (and all the pollinators in between!)

Romina Romero (Auckland): Pukapuka o Tamaki (Lungs of Auckland)

Robert Scanlan (Christchurch): The Southern Migration of the Godwit

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