Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Home / Art  / Creating a Community Connection

Creating a Community Connection

South Island artist Tess Sheerin has dedicated several months to creating a distinctive large scale public artwork in downtown Queenstown that carries an important community message.

The highly visible, three-dimensional painting in the Athol Street carpark is entitled Rejuvenation and depicts a giant Moa, a Kiwi and a honeybee. Tess says the mural is a mental health response with deep meaning.

 “Public art has the ability to shift the way people see the world and can play a role in social and environmental change and there is great freedom in this form of expression.  I have painted some of Aotearoa’s unique taonga wildlife to inspire empathy and erase the stigma around mental health issues. Noah the Moa is asking for reconnection, growth and gratitude, Karma Kiwi requests love and kindness and Balance Bee requires balance and nutrition. The work is an attempt to remind us to slow down, connect to our roots and the people and animals around us. Connecting with nature is a proven way to improve our health and wellbeing.”

Tess Sheerin

Tess has spoken out about her own ongoing battle with anxiety and depression and says the Covid-19 pandemic raised important awareness around mental illness.

“It takes an enormous amount of courage, bravery and strength to ask for help. As an artist isolation and uncertainty are part of the job description but I have found after getting the help I needed my health has improved a great deal.”

The Rejuvenation mural is painted in recognition of The Key to Life Charitable Trust and has been supported by a group of sponsors and businesses led by Queenstown artist Lynda Hensman and Phil Hensman.

“I became friends with Lynda when I lived in Queenstown a few years ago. After suffering from a serious breakdown at the end of 2018, having failed to control my work and life balance I moved back to Christchurch to be close to my family to recover,” says Tess.

“The following year I was surfing with Danie Hensman at Sumner Beach and met up with Lynda and Phil again. They asked if I was interested in taking on a project to paint the back wall of 58 Stanley Street and it went from there. It took over a year from the conceptual idea to receiving resource consent and a month later I was painting.”

Tess spent months producing the extensive artwork and “is immensely grateful for the support from the Hensmans, assistant artists and others in the community who worked so hard behind the scene to see the project completed.”

Sponsors and supporters: Hensman MacDonald Ltd, The Ivy Box, Creative NZ, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Wakatipu Reforestation Trust, The Key to Life Charitable Trust, Canon, Resene, Kennards Hire, Chia Sisters, Hemp Farm NZ, Earth’s Kitchen, The Drawing Room, Flow State, Valka Yoga and Queenstown Arts Centre.