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The High Point: words of encouragement for the new year

Media release

Friday 10 January 2014

Central Wellington’s streets will be dotted with bright artworks next week, offering short statements of encouragement to passers-by.

The High Point is a public art poster project that takes well-known clichés, and inverts them by removing one crucial word: don’t. Lucy Orbell, a Wellington based poet, was struck with the idea while walking down the street.

“I can’t remember what was on my mind, but I remember thinking: why do we say to one another, ‘don’t get your hopes up’? Why not get your hopes up? What truly happens if we do get our hopes up? Our hopes are dashed? Well, they could be, but does it matter how high they are?”

She began thinking about how common these phrases are in our daily lives: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”, “Don’t take it personally”, and “Don’t get ahead of yourself”. The recurring theme was words acting as warnings and as ways to rein in expectation and excitement from one person to another.

“I wanted to take these words and turn them into positive, action statements. It suddenly seemed so clear that by taking away “don’t” the words immediately become their opposite – encouraging and energetic”.

The High Point street posters have been designed to be clear and bold as they will sit next to busy events posters around the city. The campaign will run for six weeks and begins on Monday 13 January. The project has been funded through Wellington City Council’s Public Art Fund. Lucy says she hopes the public enjoys their encounters with the statements at the beginning of a new year.

“I wanted to offer something at the beginning of a new year, as people are returning to work, a literal sign of encouragement – go on, get your hopes up.”


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