Scene at Public Art Talks Tauranga, 2015


Diane Hume-Green and husband, Architect Phil Green, have organised successful urban design forums in Cafe QVIS, Tauranga. Diane shares her impressions of some of the recent Public Art Talks Tauranga discussion programme.

After an initial meeting at the Tauranga City Council Chambers, a series of discussions about a Public Art Policy for Tauranga was mooted. Congratulations to Sonya Korohina and her team and of course the sponsors, for getting a great programme together to discuss and inform about what defines ‘Public Art’.

An excellent brochure with programme details along with a Facebook page, Twitter and email and good advertising should have had all sessions overflowing with Tauranga’s creative art and cultural communities and general public.

I was able to attend three of the sessions. They were well run, highly informative, and had great speakers who used excellent visual images to enhance their talks.

The Incubator hosted Mark Spijkerbosch, the Rotorua District Council Arts Officer. Mark is a mural artist and has worked in many different community settings. He has also worked with youth to get them interested and engaged in art projects.

Mark talked about the Council’s funding along with grants and sponsorship to fund their projects and the method used to choose works. They have suburban murals which local residents initiated, CBD artworks to enliven the space for tourists and locals and the Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail at the Government Gardens. This was started with the Sculpture Symposium last year and will be an ongoing project for many years. Unfortunately we could not see the slide show he had but there were many people in the audience who said they would make the effort when in Rotorua to take a look and enjoy the art trail.

The second session I attended was the presentation by Deborah McCormick, Director of SCAPE Public Art in Christchurch. SCAPE has commissioned 150 new temporary public art works and has a gifting programme of 8 permanent artworks. Her slide show was so inspiring and so diverse with international and national artists’ amazing artworks featured. Deborah spoke about how many of the large companies and industry partners who have invested in the Christchurch rebuild are providing funding for public art. SCAPE also has an education programme working with schools to share resources, school holiday programmes and collaborative art such as The Stencil Project. It seems a well-organized and evolving programme with the highlight this year of SCAPE 8 Christchurch Biennial being held from 3rd October 2015 –15th November 2015.

The 3rd session and the one I would have thought would have been packed but wasn’t, was the talk by Auckland Council Design Champion, Ludo Campbell-Reid. He was headhunted from overseas for the job and his department’s transformation of public spaces in Auckland City is well-known and enjoyed by locals and thousands of national and international visitors alike. His aim is to make the city one of the great cities alongside Barcelona, Sydney and New York. His slide presentation of parks and public spaces in cities around the world and his before and after pictures of the Wyndham Quarter in Auckland was impressive. Getting rid of cars from the Auckland CBD is his mission and making pedestrian friendly spaces where people can eat and interact with each other is his aim. He is a straight talking guy who is passionate about his adopted city and the projects that will take Auckland to be on the top 10 list of livable cities.

Submissions to the Council on the draft public art policy have closed and we wait with bated breath for the outcome.

All three of these talks offered a lot to Tauranga residents and the art community. All three of these people are involved in doing, not just talking. Yes there are meetings and plans but they have started and completed many projects and have the vision and passion to complete more.

With a team approach Tauranga could be one of the great NZ cities. We too have a beautiful harbour at our doorstep and many creative artists and designers in our city. We just need to get past stopping and starting with our plans and go for it. All things can be changed and adapted as the years go on but you can’t do that if nothing is started.

Diane Hume-Green


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