Wellington students and artist collaborate on sea-themed mural

Eleanor Wenman 07:21, Jul 16 2018 Dominion Post
Image supplied

Indicative mural designs by Sheyne Tuffery in collaboration with Weta Workshop and Year 12 art students from Rongotai College.

A new lick of paint, some bright lights and a sea creature or two are making a difference to Rongotai's subway tunnel.

The Rongotai to Miramar tunnel, running under the airport runway, is being decorated with a sea-themed mural, thanks to Rongotai College students and artist Sheyne Tuffery.

Tuffery had been out at the tunnel for the last couple of weeks, battling the winter weather to paint on a mural at both ends of the pedestrian tunnel.


Artist Sheyne Tuffery has tried his hand at a few murals, including one in the Marlborough Health Hub. (File photo)

"I like the challenge of making something ugly beautiful," he said.

He personally hadn't used the subway in a few years but remembered it as dark and feeling a bit unsafe when he had.

Now it was being brightened up with the mural, as well as LED lights, new security cameras and a brighter tunnel.

"I think it needs it too because the airport is getting bigger and bigger. It's a great access tunnel - the cyclists use it a lot too."

Mayor Justin Lester said the mural would enhance the walking and biking connection, and the neighbourhoods on both side.

"More importantly, they will bring life and meaning to the names of the suburbs on each side, and help highlight the area's history," he said.

Centuries ago, Rongotai was likely completely underwater. Large earthquakes would have gradually raised it up out of the sea. In te reo, Rongotai means the sound of the sea.

On the other side, Miramar gets its name from the Spanish and means sea view.

Tuffery said the underwater theme immediately stood out for the mural. Along with Weta Workshop art director Paul Tobin, he went to the nearby Rongotai College to talk to senior art students and brainstorm ideas.

"These guys were great," Tuffery said, "They came up with some great ideas."

Tuffery and Tobin had three workshops with the students. Once Tuffery started working on the wall itself, several students came down to help put on the base colours.

Work is estimated to take another couple of weeks, depending on the weather.

For the paint to dry properly, it needed to be at least 10 degrees Celsius, with no drizzle or rain, Tuffery said - conditions that had been a little hard to come by recently.

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