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Teviot Valley Intercultural Mural Public Art Project, with Flox and TrustMe

A walk down the main street of Roxburgh in the evening is a guaranteed opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich cultural makeup of the Teviot Valley.  This has been the case for centuries, and continues today, with many people coming from abroad to work in the horticulture sector that the Teviot Valley is so well known for.

Cherries, apricots and apples now dominate the area, and the Valley is a celebrated food basket of Central Otago, and was historically also a sought destination for gold mining. The area has attracted people from around the world, including Maori, Chinese, Australian and European populations.

More recently, the Teviot Valley has come to rely on a seasonal workforce to support the horticulture sector. People travel from far and wide to help harvest food, coming from countries including Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Malaysia, and more. A long Scottish heritage runs strongly throughout this history and remains a big part of the identity of many Teviot Valley locals.

In 2017, the Teviot Valley Community Development Scheme, ran a survey for seasonal workers, many who return to the Valley year after year, to find out how the community could better support them. Together they identified a mural project as an opportunity to celebrate all the different cultures which have woven together over time and contribute to what the Valley is today.

With a big vision of what could be possible, the Teviot Valley Community Development Scheme partnered with the Central Otago District Arts Trust to identify an artist who would be able to carry out a piece of work that included community-led input.

In the early stages of the project, not everybody in the community was on board with the idea. But the group was determined to make a difference and embrace the diversity of their community, while adding value to the streetscape. Community development presents challenges at times, but with a shared community vision and a clear goal in mind, a little determination goes a long way.

Flox and TrustMe travelled from the North Island down to Roxburgh in January 2020. Flox is an internationally renowned Kiwi artist, who has done stencil murals all over the world.

Over three days, Flox ran four free stencil workshops for the community across the Teviot Valley, including on the main street of Roxburgh, and at the annual Cherry Chaos festival, where the community was invited to give input into what they love about the Valley, and what they love about the country they come from. There was an amazing representation of locals from the Teviot Valley at these workshops, with some people attending all four. Even more exciting, people came from all across Central Otago, with some even coming from further afar places such as Invercargill, Queenstown and Christchurch.

Following four very successful workshops, the community was in love with the concept, and Flox and TrustMe spent the next four days stencilling and spray painting their masterpiece on the wall of a privately owned building on Scotland Street in Roxburgh. This mural is the first of its kind in Central Otago, and people in the Valley and across the district continue to celebrate this achievement and relish in the opportunity to have such a masterpiece on display on the main street. It has created an appetite throughout Central Otago, with other communities now wanting murals in their towns too.

The mural beautifully depicts many of the cultures of the Valley, and can be viewed at 96 Scotland St, Roxburgh. An interpretation piece on the main window provides the artists’ interpretation of each component of the mural.

This project was made possible by funding and grants from the Teviot Valley Community Development Scheme, Central Lakes Trust, Otago Community Trust, Trust Power Lend a Hand, Creative Communities NZ, and substantial support from Central Otago District Arts Trust and Central Otago District Council.

 

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