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Oriental Bay Seascape Mural Teaming with Life

1 August 2005

Growing Creative Habitats Oriental Bay Seascape Mural Teaming with Life, Fishes, and New Critters

Wellington's colourful and dynamic Oriental Bay Seascape mural is about to get a new population of fish and underwater creatures, thanks to a group of local artists, a team of scientists, and an on-going creative partnership.

Wellington City Council and the Department of Conservation began a partnership last year, which combined a dilapidated retaining wall, a handful of artists, and a group of scientists and marine life specialists. The result is the unique work of public art known as the Oriental Bay Seascape Mural.

Originally painted by artist Ellen Coup in May 2004, the mural offers a closer look at Wellington's underwater habitats, from rock pools to marine mammals to birdlife to the variety of local fishes. Several dozen illustrations of local marine life, painted onto sign-grade plywood by Wellington artists, were then bolted in place as a second layer on top of Coup's striking habitat.

"Just about everyone who passes the mural, from joggers and cyclists to kids and foreign visitors, wants to stop and engage with the extraordinary world it depicts," said Wellington City Council Arts Manager, Eric Holowacz. "It's a credit to the artists, the scientists, and DOC, that they all seem to want to learn more about fishes, seaweeds, and orcas."

On Tuesday 2 August, to celebrate DOC's Conservation Week programmes, over a dozen new illustrations will be added to the 90m seascape mural, making it an even more dynamic depiction of local aquatic flora and fauna.

The new additions, created by Jo Thapa, Julian Knapp, Aaron Frater, and Hamish Pilbrow, include a stingray, banded rasse, porcupine fish, oyster catcher, several kina, and the familiar blue cod. The illustrations were completed after consultation and advice from marine specialists at DOC, Te Papa, and NIWA.

"This project shows how art can be used to promote conservation objectives, educate the community, and advocate for local environmental concerns," said DOC Community Relations Ranger Jo Greenman. "It also provides countless opportunities to develop school programmes, education activities, informative literature and creative outreach activities."

The public and local media are invited to view the installation, and help celebrate this next stage of the Oriental Bay Seascape Mural, from 10am to noon on Tuesday 2 August. There will be a welcome and introductions by Department of Conservation rangers on-site at 11am, and participating artists will be available to discuss this unique educational art project.


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