Unsung workers acknowledged in prize-winning art

Rebecca Mauger and Steve Graveson





Your Community Voice

Katikati Community Centre workers may have done a double-take at Steve Monk’s mural of Allan Wainwright. The artist won second prize for his mural of the centre’s ex-manager at the New Zealand Mural Contest’s prizegiving on Saturday night, which was held for the artists and the “unsung heroes during the first lockdown” they portrayed. Steve’s mural went a little more than just giving Allan his deserved kudos . . . he included Katikati Community Centre staff into the painting as well and staff may recognise themselves. Steve says the more he researched the centre, the more he wanted to include its workers. “I thought ‘these people should be acknowledged because of their input as well’. The boss quite often gets all the glory so I thought I’d acknowledge them as well.” Allan stands in the foreground, with workers behind him. All have arms folded with sleeves rolled up to show they are hard workers. They wear masks to identify with Covid-19 times. Steve went online to include some of their faces. Steve and wife Carol flew over especially to attend the prizegiving. The first prize winner — who took home $7000 and the June Carlton Memorial Trophy — was Oropi artist Andrea Green. Andrea had painted Sue Spriggens, who manages Katikati Christian Foodbank and they were both “totally surprised and blown away” by the award. Sue was painted from a photo taken by Katikati Advertiser editor Rebecca Mauger for a foodbank story. Sue stood up when she was needed at the time, Andrea says, and symbolism was used to help depict Sue’s character. “The passionflower is often used to symbolise events in the last hours of Christ, The Passion of Christ. The corona represents the crown of thorns, the three styles the nails, the five stamens the wounds of Christ, the red stains the blood of Christ and the flowers tendrils the whips used in the flagellation. The petals and sepals are said to represent the 10 faithful apostles. “I have included six blooms to honour the six churches that are behind the Reach Out Trust.” Other winners from the evening were Michelle Estall who painted Chris Steel, also taking out the spirit of Katikati award and third prize of $1500. People’s choice award went to Shane Walker. Katikati Open Air Art president Steve Graveson says the theme for this year’s festival created a real community interest. “Even though this year’s mural contest had taken nearly two years to host, the theme and standard of art made the event a very special one in a number of ways — firstly the real and meaningful theme had created a large amount of community interest because it was something we had all experienced and been through. “Also, the eventual way the contest was hosted via the virtual method had created challenges but a different vibe to the whole event. “It was the eighth contest we had hosted and it was a good time to change the format and give the whole thing a new lease of life,” Graveson says. “I am so glad I took the time and organised all nine canvases to come back to Katikati. “This meant they could be displayed in real life and we could all get to enjoy and admire what some very talented people had created. It also made judging easier and fairer.” Judges on the night were Steve, art tutor Damien Kurth and Mayor (and artist) Garry Webber.