Main street mural unveiled

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Countdown Oamaru’s blank wall that faces State Highway One has started to be filled in, with the unveiling of the first of a planned series of artworks yesterday.

Two panels of the wall have been revealed – they feature architectural, cultural and geographic features of the Oamaru region, with some steampunk influence.

Another nine artworks, which will be transferred on to anti-graffiti-treated vinyl hangings, will be installed by Streeter Concepts and revealed at the rate of one a week – a process Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher described as a “slow reveal”.

The works have been created by local artists Watts Davies, Trish Shirley and Donna Demente, with the project overseen by Ken Laraman, and will be known as Windows on the Waitaki.

The project is funded by Countdown and the Waitaki District Council, who contributed $15,000 and $5000 respectively.

Speaking at the unveiling, Mr Kircher said while the project had taken a long time to get off the ground, he was pleased with the result.

“I think what we have come up with for the town is something that’s going to be an attraction on its own in its own right.”

Countdown Oamaru store manager Barry Ware said he was pleased to see something done about the blank wall.

“I personally think this was a mistake putting this blank wall here. Our company has seen sense and decided to support this project.

“It’s great that Countdown Oamaru will be transformed to become a great piece of art for our local community.”

Artist Ken Laraman said the murals would transform a blank space into a mural the whole community could enjoy and be proud of.

“The whole concept is to look below the veranda to look at these beautiful pictures. To see them at ground level means we can learn a little bit about the architecture of the whole thing.”

Mr Laraman said eventually he would like to see the project repeated around other parts of Oamaru, with different ideas explored.

Mr Kircher originally proposed the mural in response to criticism the space wasn’t being used effectively.

“It been fantastic to see how positive people are about the mural and their enthusiasm to see the wall transformed. It’s been a creative journey working with the artists and Countdown, and it is truly exciting to have reached the point where we will soon see the mural take shape and be a feature that the community are proud of,” Mr Kircher said.

By Daniel Birchfield

PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD – Oamaru artists Watts Davies, left, Trish Shirley, Donna Demente and Ken Laraman with one of two artworks on the wall of the Countdown Oamaru building, which faces State Highway One, that were unveiled yesterday.