Artist Chris Dews has had a lot of interest from pupils in his work as he paints the school’s walls. Nature and the sea are key themes, along with making areas such as the library and bike stands more lively and visually appealing.
Red Beach artist Chris Dews was given an artist’s dream – a blank canvas, full creative licence and a year’s commission to bring a local Primary school to life.
Orewa North Primary School principal Katherine Pascoe commissioned Chris to create murals on the school’s exterior plain blue walls. The brief was to reflect the environment – just one block from the beach, and near to Eave’s Bush.
She says the work, which was paid for by the PTA’s fundraising, was to be fluid and fun, bringing the walls to life.
Students are enjoying watching the paintings being made, and loving the results, Katherine says.
Images range from native plants and birds to bicycles (near the bike racks) and creative imagery around books, near the library.
The project began in January and is in four phases; it is currently almost at the end of phase two, and expected to take Chris until the end of this year to complete.
Other aspects of refurbishing the school’s exterior are also a focus this year –including playground additions, students’ artwork made from recycled materials and gardens.
Katherine says the work is in tandem with the school’s “revisioning” of its values.
It includes looking at how history and the Orewa environment can be woven into the future of the Orewa North students.
Chris says the next phases of the work will bring in a lot of images of activities such as sports. In total there will be around 50 murals which Chris says he has come to realise is like an outdoor gallery of his work.
“It’s a pleasure to have the school’s trust to be creative, and to be able to do this in a public space,” he says.
Chris says he is heavily influenced in his art by his father, Steven Dews, a famous marine artist. Chris has worked in photography and film, and has only been painting professionally for three years.
Feedback from the community watching the project unfold has been amazing, Katherine says.
“People stand outside the school looking at it, and even come in to give positive comments.”