The big blue shipping container mural

ART IS LIFE: Graphic artist Sean Duffell painted this bright mural on a beachfront shipping container. The container is a storage facility for equipment used in the Surf for Life programme, an initiative that aims to help at-risk youth. Picture by Paul Rickard
BLUE LIFE: Wellington graphic artist Sean Duffell’s characteristically ornate mural at the Childers Road end of the Te Rau Press building was part of the Sea Walls Tairawhiti project that took ocean health as its theme. Picture by Paul Rickard

Sun discs peep out from behind thick, green lines that drip like melting ice-creams while a froth-topped face smiles out of the stylised undergrowth in Sean Duffell’s mural on a shipping container at Midway Beach.

Duffell was one of the Sea Walls Tairawhiti mural project artists who took the theme of ocean health for their Gisborne and Uawa-Tolaga Bay murals. After completion of the project the Wellington-based graphic artist agreed to paint a design for free on the beachfront shipping container.

The container is used for equipment storage for Gisborne Boardriders Club’s initiative, Surf For Life. The programme offers five, free, 90-minute sessions that focus on surfing skills and health and safety in the water. With no club-room available to store their equipment in, GBC surfing development manager Florian Bub came up with the idea of using a shipping container that would be based at the beach. The Marina Development Society sponsored the shipping container which is now located by Midway Surf Life Saving Club.

The shipping container hardly blended in with the beach setting so when Bub heard his friend Kelly Spencer was regional coordinator for the Sea Walls Tairawhiti murals project he got in touch with her.

“I contacted her about a new social initiative. I knew heaps of artists were coming to town. Kelly asked Sean to help fit the container into the landscape more,” says Bub.

“I sent him all the information about the programme and kids. He came up with the design concept himself.”

Duffell’s design for Surf For Life’s shipping container is characteristically symmetrical, richly coloured, and cartoonishly ornate. The boldly outlined imagery includes a flowing vegetal form in bright shades of green and bursts of tropical undergrowth. Giggling blue water and a blue sky lightened by a bursting sun enhance a sense of connection with the sea and the beach environment.

“Sean’s design is positive and playful,” says Bub.

“When kids come to our sessions they see cool-looking street art.”

Positivity is a significant message for the young people who visit the site to learn how to surf. Gisborne Boardriders came up with the idea to make surfing more accessible because waves are free but surfboards, leg-ropes, wax and wetsuits are not, says Bub.

“A lot of deprived kids don’t have access to surfboards so we came up with the initiative Surf For Life.

“Some kids come in smoking cigarettes. They don’t talk a lot but once here, and in the water and standing up on a board there’s a dramatic shift. You see a marked improvement.”

Dead or dying whales feature in about a quarter of the Sea Walls murals, and a marine-life deadland provides a backdrop to the kiddies’ cycle-park, but for his Sea Walls mural Duffell took a subtle approach to the spectre of ocean death.

The Kahutia Street mural on a wall at the rear of the Te Rau Press building sets a network of luminous blue arteries with almost psychedelic squiggles and highlights on a black backdrop.

The suggestion is that marine life in all its vivid and weird permutations is under threat but life will nonetheless prevail. How well it prevails depends on positive action from those whose futures depend on it.

Sun discs peep out from behind thick, green lines that drip like melting ice-creams while a froth-topped face smiles out of the stylised undergrowth in Sean Duffell’s mural on a shipping container at Midway Beach.

Duffell was one of the Sea Walls Tairawhiti mural project artists who took the theme of ocean health for their Gisborne and Uawa-Tolaga Bay murals. After completion of the project the Wellington-based graphic artist agreed to paint a design for free on the beachfront shipping container.

The container is used for equipment storage for Gisborne Boardriders Club’s initiative, Surf For Life. The programme offers five, free, 90-minute sessions that focus on surfing skills and health and safety in the water. With no club-room available to store their equipment in, GBC surfing development manager Florian Bub came up with the idea of using a shipping container that would be based at the beach. The Marina Development Society sponsored the shipping container which is now located by Midway Surf Life Saving Club.

The shipping container hardly blended in with the beach setting so when Bub heard his friend Kelly Spencer was regional coordinator for the Sea Walls Tairawhiti murals project he got in touch with her.

“I contacted her about a new social initiative. I knew heaps of artists were coming to town. Kelly asked Sean to help fit the container into the landscape more,” says Bub.

“I sent him all the information about the programme and kids. He came up with the design concept himself.”

Duffell’s design for Surf For Life’s shipping container is characteristically symmetrical, richly coloured, and cartoonishly ornate. The boldly outlined imagery includes a flowing vegetal form in bright shades of green and bursts of tropical undergrowth. Giggling blue water and a blue sky lightened by a bursting sun enhance a sense of connection with the sea and the beach environment.

“Sean’s design is positive and playful,” says Bub.

“When kids come to our sessions they see cool-looking street art.”

Positivity is a significant message for the young people who visit the site to learn how to surf. Gisborne Boardriders came up with the idea to make surfing more accessible because waves are free but surfboards, leg-ropes, wax and wetsuits are not, says Bub.

“A lot of deprived kids don’t have access to surfboards so we came up with the initiative Surf For Life.

“Some kids come in smoking cigarettes. They don’t talk a lot but once here, and in the water and standing up on a board there’s a dramatic shift. You see a marked improvement.”

Dead or dying whales feature in about a quarter of the Sea Walls murals, and a marine-life deadland provides a backdrop to the kiddies’ cycle-park, but for his Sea Walls mural Duffell took a subtle approach to the spectre of ocean death.

The Kahutia Street mural on a wall at the rear of the Te Rau Press building sets a network of luminous blue arteries with almost psychedelic squiggles and highlights on a black backdrop.

The suggestion is that marine life in all its vivid and weird permutations is under threat but life will nonetheless prevail. How well it prevails depends on positive action from those whose futures depend on it.

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