Riverside art reflects water theme

03:03, Jul 01 2014
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BRIGHT SPOT: Kathaleen Bartha’s mural Flown on the Riverside Pool wall, near the Maitai River.

Nelson has been adorned with two new murals from local artists as part of the Riverside murals project.

The two murals, Flow by Kathaleen Bartha on the Riverside Pool building and Stayin' Current by Robbie Siataga-Kavanagh on the Elma Turner Library, are now completed and are part of a series of eight artworks along the Maitai Walkway.

Originally the project was to include 10 artworks, but has been cut back because of "logistics", said project manager Chris Finlayson.

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ISLANDS IN THE STREAM: Stayin’ Current by Robbie Siataga-Kavanagh is on the wall of the Elma Turner Library.

"We are halfway through the project and I hope Nelsonians are getting a feel for the variety and visual appeal this walkway gallery can provide."

He said colour and meaningful art on commercial buildings along the walkway lifted the tone.

"They create a conversation with the river environment, heritage and city culture in support of other public art around the place."


Bartha's work drapes the eastern wall of the Riverside Pool and reflects water and movement and can be viewed from the path along the Maitai River.

"My partner is a sea captain and we spend a lot of time at sea so everything I paint about is about the water and the sea and the oceans," she said.

It was a collaborative project involving many people with much technical advice and input as Bartha usually works on glass or other material, but this could not be used due to safety concerns and possible deterioration.

The end result is a digital print on the back of poly-carbonate glass panels - an indestructible piece that is water and UV proof.

It was originally a painting she did on tin before it morphed it into indestructible public art.

"It's right close to the river and you can hear the river and see when you walk by - it is reflective and creates a lot more movement in it," she said.

The work has already gained compliments from those passing by with many interested in how it was put together and executed.

"It creates a lot of dialogue with people," said Bartha.

"It's been really fun from that respect, getting a response and interaction with people where they don't necessarily have to go into a gallery."

Stayin' Current has a Pacific Islands theme inspired by tapa cloths and the earthy tones represented in their colour palette.

"The meaning of the work has much to do with migration and cultural evolution where the need to go with the flow, to move with the times, especially with regard to traditions that no longer serve the needs of their respective societies drives culture forward, towards something better," said Siataga-Kavanagh.

Being situated on the library wall was appropriate, he said, as libraries were iconic cultural institutes needing to stay current with the changing needs of society.

"For me personally, Stayin' Current means growth and overcoming the fear of change, Siataga-Kavanagh said.

"The underlying background metaphor is the river that represents the importance of having healthy waterways for food and recreation, as signified by the large fish," he said.

Siataga-Kavanagh was "chuffed with how the work came out".

"My hope is that people take away from it an inspired desire to work towards a more culturally diverse Nelson that is represented across the board from the council table to the kindergarten," he said.

The Nelson Mail