The challenges we discuss in Infrastructure Management are so often focussed on hard engineering issues such as demand, capacity and design solutions for assets that are often never seen by the community.
Whilst it is important to provide the essential services to keep people safe and healthy it is easy to lose sight of what it is that the community see and interact with every day that can make small improvements in their sense of well-being and local identity.
In Timaru, Chorus have engaged with two Christchurch-based artists to bring a bit more beauty to the community by having murals painted on telecommunication boxes.
Normally the company seek local artists when painting boxes, but they did not get any Timaru submissions for the first round of art works.
The cabinet art initiative by Chorus, in partnership with environmental organisation Keep New Zealand Beautiful, apparently first began in Auckland in 2010, as a way of brightening up the boxes that often get targeted by taggers. The scheme has since spread around the country, and Timaru has got on board this year.
Hopefully, more interest would be generated by next year’s round which was expected to open about May.
Timaru is also fortunate to have had three wall-sized murals organised by Timaru Civic Trust and Alive Vibrant Timaru which reflect Mount Cook lilies, South Canterbury wildlife, and plankton. These complete the street art project.
Wall Flowers by Aroha Novakj
The artist wanted the nostalgic reference to the Mt Cook Airlines logo which featured the Mt Cook Lily.
“It’s fantastic what Timaru is doing with street art,” the artist said. “There are some amazing buildings, some beautiful old buildings, and so many empty walls that would be great for murals.”
Bedrock of Life by Toothfish
The artist said in his artist statement that planktons are the “bedrock” of the ocean food chain, as well as the driving force of the carbon cycle.
“Humans burn coal and oil derived from the remains of prehistoric plankton and a good percentage of the carbon released in this process is sucked up by plant plankton in the ocean, who produce oxygen for us to breathe,” he explained.
Taking It to the Street by Flox
Flox’s mural features the cabbage tree, a huia, a moa skeleton, a long-tailed bat, a weta, and mudfish against the backdrop of the mountains and Caroline Bay. This mural took four days to complete. The mural’s title refers back to Timaru’s original name “Te Maru” (the shelter).
These actions which may seem small on their own but are contributing to the well-being of the community to give them a sense of pride and identity in the town and showing the “softer” side of infrastructure management as well.
Well done Chorus and the Timaru Civic contributing to the local government and community well-being!
PHOTO CREDIT: Tina McEwing