New community murals spruce up library

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The Children’s Library at Nelson Public Library has two new murals brightening up what used to be an eyesore thanks to a project involving a dozen individuals, companies and groups.

The murals were painted by Nelson artist Monique Richards, commissioned by Matt Lawrey, and unveiled at a packed launch at the library on Saturday afternoon.

The artworks feature jungle scenes inhabited by exotic wildlife including lizards, monkeys and snakes, along with characters from popular culture including, amongst others, Kermit the Frog, R2D2, Harry Potter and Wally.

In a nod to one of the project’s supporters, Wakatu Incorporation, the murals also include images of native flora and fauna, including takahe, tui, kowhai, kiwi and pohutukawa.

In a novel twist, the murals, which are painted onto large panels, are fixed to the side of The Car Company’s workshop, a building owned by Wakatu Incorporation, and are only visible through windows in the Children’s Library.

Before the murals went up the windows looked out onto a concrete block wall.

Monique says the murals were a lot of fun to work on and she particularly enjoyed painting them surrounded by art students at Waimea College.

“I’ve also had a real insight into the background work that makes a project like this happen, and feel very lucky to do something I love. Mostly I hope that kids enjoy finding some of their favourite characters hidden in the mural,” she says.

The joint effort started over a coffee in December last year and Matt, who managed the project, says he is thrilled with the way so many different people and groups have supported the murals.

“Amazingly, everyone I approached got behind the project,” he says.

The money came from Friends of the Nelson Library Inc, Nelson Public Library and Creative NZ’s Creative Communities Scheme through Arts Council Nelson. Resene provided the paint, the materials were donated by Cutting Edge Signs + Graphics, Wakatu Incorporation paid for the murals to be erected and their tenant, The Car Company, gave their consent.  Waimea College then came to the party letting Monique work in their art department and Nelson City Council paid for the plaque explaining how the artworks came to be.

Matt says he hopes the murals put smiles on children’s faces for many years to come.

“They’re wonderfully painted and at the same time they’re quite wacky. I love the way Monique has mixed things up. The fact they include kowhai, R2D2, tui, Animal from The Muppets, a massive snake, lizards and Harry Potter is actually kind of classic.”

It’s the second time Matt has commissioned a public artwork for the city.

The first was a large mural on the corner of Toi Toi and Emano Sts painted by Julie Wilson in 2012.