“The more different things there are, the richer the world…”

Posted: 28/04/15

Artist Sherryle Bennett tells us why she created her Hundertwasser-inspired mural on Whangarei's Riverside Drive.


Sherryle Bennet writes:

Art and Architecture are close to my heart and have been for many years. It would be fair to say that my husband prefers sport, but through osmosis over the years, when we came to build our ‘No.8 wire NZ shed’ home 13 years ago, my husband was happy to embrace references to Hundertwasser. The prospect of having another Hundertwasser building in the Southern Hemisphere, and on my doorstep, most certainly excites me. Why wouldn’t I be. He is an artist with a tested International reputation. I vividly remember him arriving in Auckland 30 years ago, pictured in the NZ Herald. He was standing in his baggy trousers, arms outstretched, down at the Auckland Harbour waterfront, questioning what on earth Auckland was thinking, by allowing a port to dominate the harbour and challenging Auckland City Council to develop the natural ‘gift’ that they have on their doorstep. Fast forward all these years and now consider how the waterfront has been developed and used as a valuable city space and an asset for the city. I now challenge people to consider how ironic it is today that Auckland residents do not want the port area to enlarge.
My artwork pays homage to Hundertwasser’s ‘Colour Paradise’. He identified Paradise as colourful – both creative and random.” The more different things there are, the richer the world. All things should live side by side each other in harmony”, which he asserts brings Paradise. Art challenges, art excites, art questions, provokes, polarises, diversifies and enriches. As a city, we can identify with these words. But shouldn’t we embrace all these things positively and constructively for the future benefit of our city and put Whangarei on the world stage.
We have many inspirational artists within our country and Hundertwasser is one of them. After all, he spent 30 of his 71 years here;  living in harmony, side by side with nature, in his ‘organic’ house, in a tree-clad valley near Kawakawa. Great projects require great calculated risk and strong people who are able to think outside the square. I applaud the team behind the ‘yes vote’ and my artwork is a small way in which I can contribute and demonstrate my support for the HWMAC and the benefits –  which I believe will benefit our city economically, educationally and inspirationally.
I have not mentioned the many urban and rural comparisons in Europe, to which I am lucky enough to visit each year, but I will mention what the MONA museum has done for Hobart. Tasmania was a ‘back-water’. Many visited Melbourne and went no further. These days, Hobart is one of the ‘go-to’ places  and tourist numbers have dramatically increased, helped not only by the beautiful scenery, history and walking tracks; but also by the opening of MONA – Museum of Old and New Art. Like Whangarei, Hobart has a beautiful waterfront, with cafes and boats. I first visited Hobart 15 years ago and it was lovely, but it has a vibrant and exciting buzz about it now, with obvious economic benefits. With Hundertwasser, I believe people will be drawn from State Highway one, to view our lovely Town Basin, stay a while, eat and maybe even explore more of our coastline, instead of driving past to Kawakawa and the Bay of Islands.

Riverside Drive mural

The mural in-situ on Riverside Drive (photo credit Steve Sharp).