Walkway murals project seeks help

LAURA BASHAM
Last updated 12:58 09/04/2014
Wiremu James

TAKING SHAPE: Artist and project manager Christopher Finlayson and his helpers work on the Flow mural under the Collingwood St bridge.

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The Nelson community is being invited to contribute to the Riverside murals project.

Project manager Chris Finlayson hopes at least $7000 can be raised toward the $35,000 cost of producing murals on the walls of three privately-owned business properties in central Nelson.

The project, which began in 2012, aimed to produce 10 murals along the Maitai riverside walkway.

Five are on Nelson City Council property and it is providing $77,000.

Two of those murals have been completed. A street art-style image is under the Collingwood St bridge, and the other, at Millers Acre, depicts a sepia colour photo of sailboats, by artist Rick Edmonds.

Two more which are expected to be completed by the end of next month are on the library and the Riverside pool. The fifth is to be on the Trafalgar St side of Millers Acre and will feature a sculpture relief.

Originally five private walls were included but that has reduced to three: the Crowe Horwath building in Trafalgar St, further along the river a wall at the back of the Car Company building owned by Wakatu Incorporation running off Halifax St, and the back corner of the ACC riverside building, owned by Thirteen Fifty Eight Ltd.

Finlayson said if he is able to raise at least $7000, which is 20 per cent of the $35,000 private walls cost, he will then be able to apply for a Creative NZ arts grant.

"It's like asking for a bank loan, they want to see a commitment from a person."

He hopes businesses, philanthropist or any individual who sees the merits of the project will support it with a financial contribution.

He's confident the project will also appeal to Creative NZ. "There is nothing like this anywhere, producing a gallery of definite mural styles."

Finlayson defends the project cost, which includes his co-ordination of the people involved with the murals, overseeing the work as well as expenses such paint, scaffolding, panel and travel.

They would be paid a trades wage of about $35 an hour, he said.

He lives in Golden Bay and plans to do the project in stages, coming to Nelson for a month at a time while two murals are completed. "You can do a fast one in a weekend or a thorough job over two weeks to a month. We want to do a thorough job," he said.

Eelco Boswijk, who with George Shaw, arranged for Belgium artist Roa to paint murals in Nelson, said the cost for the Riverside murals project was "completely realistic".

They raised $10,000 to commission Roa to come to Nelson to paint an artwork on the outside of Whitby House in Collingwood St. The owner of the nearby Martha Washington premises also commissioned Roa to paint a penguin on the Bridge St wall.

Boswijk said there was a difference between their private project and the riverside project which was "weighted" with public money and council involvement.

"We put it out there we need 100 people to chip in $100. We aimed for $10,000 and that's what we achieved, the response was fantastic.

"One of the good things we did is we did not involve a lot of people. We did not carry the weight that a project involving the council incurs, a lot of weight of extra people. We tried to do it light and fast.

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"Once you are using ratepayers' money you have to do a lot of checks, you have to make sure it is worthy, therefore it costs."

The $10,000 for Roa's project had covered paint, machinery hire, his commission for one artwork which became two images, and living expenses. The Canterbury Museum had brought Roa to New Zealand and they made a contribution to the air fare cost.

Boswijk said it had been perfect timing, as he'd had a bit of time to put into arranging and Shaw had the direct contact with Roa.

"It was lightning fast; from start to finish it was seven weeks. It's difficult to do that with ratepayers' money."

For information on the murals project or to make a donation, go to: riversidemurals.co.nz.

- Nelson

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