My daily lockdown walks revealed a previously unappreciated artistic side of my neighbourhood.
I discovered how much street art we have in eastern Wellington – something I’d never noticed or appreciated before. Most of it depicts local flora, fauna, scenery and wildlife. Some of it is by professional artists, and some of it is simply vernacular – home owners adorning their castle in their own personal way. These colourful displays certainly brightened up life during COVID19 lockdowns.
The works were carried out at different times and some of them are showing signs of wear and tear, thanks to our extreme marine environment, which takes its toll. But this only adds to their character!
Here is a small selection of my discoveries. I have erased house numbers in one or two photos, to preserve the privacy of residents.
1. Balaena Bay mural
This colourful road-side mural (see top picture), depicting local scenery and attractions, is signed by ‘The staff and students of Wellington Polytechnic.’ Previously, this wall had been popular with taggers. It was hoped that a decorative mural would deter them. Apart from an occasional political slogan being painted on it, the plan has worked. The mural is enjoyed by waterfront strollers, cyclists and passing traffic (this road is one of the main routes between the airport and city).
Wellington Polytechnic has not existed since 1999, when it merged with one of Wellington’s two universities. In its lifetime, it included among its departments the Wellington School of Design, which was New Zealand’s flagship design school at the time. It was during this era that the mural was painted.
2. Flower power
This family in Roseneath decided to let the kids have a bit of fun before repainting their garden wall. There’s a childish charm about the result – it makes me feel that a very happy family must live in this house. The wall has since been repainted.
3. A bird’s eye view
This eye-catching parrot on a wall near Hataitai village is the work of graphic designer and artist Tom Wallace, who goes by the name of Tomollusk. The intricate pattern design is typical of his work. You can see more of Tom’s art on his Facebook and Instagram sites.
4. Flying fish
These rather attractive blue and green fish adorn the exterior of a property in Hataitai. They perfectly reflect their maritime location, opposite Evans Bay.
5. Serene swallows
This rather ethereal-looking mural suits its building, which has the appearance of a small classical temple. It has a very relaxing effect! The mural was painted by Hamish Pilbrow.
6. Boat shed beauty
Evans Bay is known for its boat sheds, and this is one of the more colourful ones. I watched it being painted several months ago, and the artist has done a fantastic job. The design reminds me of the 1960s flower power era, with its pastel colours, floral motifs and symbolism. There is a touch of fantasy, magic and mystery about it which I love.
7. Heavenly stairway
This stairway leading up to a house in Evans Bay has made its simple corrugated iron surface into a thing of beauty! The mural depicts local scenery and wildlife. Local boatsheds, islands on the south coast, the cabbage tree, the kowhai and the tui all feature in this vivid seascape.
8. Island Bay seascape
This amazing mural covers the whole side wall of the building which houses the studio and shop of artist Michael McCormack. It’s a painting of Island Bay, where the studio is located. To get the full impact of the painting, you need to cross the road and stand well back. The cycle lane sign is not part of it, by the way!
The mural is a perfect advert for Michael’s gorgeous artworks. You can see more on his web site where there’s also a video about the mural.
9. Domestic bliss
This clever mural on an embankment at Oriental Bay has such brilliant perspective that it almost feels like looking inside a real house! I particularly like the cat on the windowsill looking longingly at the caged bird.
10. Functional and fabulous
We might need to have boxes housing electricity and other utility-related equipment, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful. Here are some utility boxes and a book-swap box around Roseneath.
11. Maui at Evans Bay Marina
This vibrant mural of a Maui dolphin was painted on a boatshed wall by local artist Kelly Spencer. Kelly has said that it’s one of her favourite works, because it wasn’t commissioned – she did it because she wanted to! (with permission from the city council and the marina managers, of course!) The mural forms part of a series intended to promote marine conservation and environmental awareness.
More about art in Wellington
This snapshot of street art in eastern Wellington is just a tiny taste of what goes on in our creative capital city. Under normal conditions there is no shortage of superb galleries to visit, public art to admire, shows like World of Wearable Art (WOW) to go to, or just quirky residents doing their own thing. Wellington City Council’s web site has more information on murals and street art in other suburbs.
The Wellington Sculpture Trust recommends 3 different walks to appreciate the public sculptures around the city. They are all well worth doing.
© Coconut Lands. Not to be reproduced without permission.