Wednesday, May 22, 2024

New look for Nelson underpass

A Nelson railway underpass is being transformed into a tribute to active transport and toi Māori (Māori art) with work to paint murals on the underpass’s exterior “wing walls” beginning.

Artists Hannah Starnes and Nerys Ngaruhe are painting murals on each end of the Railway Reserve underpass near Waimea Road over a period of two weeks. The mural designs were selected by Nelson City Council’s Art Selection Panel and supported by Te Ohu Toi Ahurea (Iwi Cultural Managers).

Hannah started work on her mural at the southern end of the underpass. Her design incorporates active transport modes and a nod to the Railway Reserve’s past.

“My design is a feel-good, energetic scene that celebrates the progression from the use of steam trains in the area to people choosing to use modes of active transport to get to and from the city nowadays,” Hannah said.

“Active travel is so good for the mind, body and the environment, and I hope that my mural will inspire people to get active and feel the positive effects that this can have on their wellbeing and the community for years to come.” 

Nerys at work on her mural.

Nerys started work on her mural this week, at the northern end of the underpass.

“My piece will feature the words ‘Kia haumaru te haere/Travel safely’. I hope for our community to engage with te reo Māori and give it a go. Tūwhitia te hopo!”

Nerys said she had recently created works for ‘Nelson’s skateparks, and this was an opportunity to share toi Māori on a broader scale.

“To have toi Māori and te reo Māori become focal points of our paaka papareti/skateparks over the past year has been such a positive transformation, and this mural along the railway is a great opportunity to celebrate our language and art with the wider community.”

Both artists collaborated with pupils from Nelson Intermediate School in their works. After brainstorming the benefits of active transport with the pupils, Hannah painted the words and designs they came up with into the wheel of one of the bikes in her mural. Nerys designed the font in which her mural’s phrase is written with the help of one of the pupils.

Nelson City Council Community and Recreation Committee Chair, Tim Skinner said both murals showcased the distinct styles and unique points of view of each artist as well as telling an important story.

“The Railway Reserve has evolved from a train track into a recreational asset for our community, and these murals bring fresh energy to the underpass, celebrating active modes of transport and encouraging safe travels, which was why the underpass was installed in the first place,” Mr Skinner said.

Painting on the underpass has been carried out between the hours of 10am – 3pm, to minimise disruption to commuters and school children. A scissor lift to allow the artists to paint the top section of the underpass was used on two days, requiring a detour around the underpass, but this work is now complete. 

Hannah has completed her mural, and Nerys expects to finish by the end of the week, weather dependent. Once complete, both murals will be treated with graffiti guard.

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