Imag­i­na­tion takes flight in mu­ral

Marlborough Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - PAULA HULBURT

A tiny bird that sur­vived against the odds is at the heart of plans for a spe­cial school mu­ral.

The New Zealand Black Robin sits at the cen­tre of a de­sign by Marl­bor­ough artist Janelle Wilkey and the en­viro lead­ers at River­lands School in Blen­heim.

The in­spi­ra­tional de­sign has been se­lected as one of three in the pri­mary schools cat­e­gory to make it through to the na­tional fi­nals of the Re­sene Wor­thy Wall Cam­paign 2018.

Pupils hope the com­mu­nity will vote for them so they can win all the ma­te­ri­als needed to paint the colour­ful mu­ral on a wall at the school.

Nurse and artist Wilkey, whose son Nel­son Whippy is in year 1 at River­lands School, says she chose the robin as it re­lates to one of the coun­try’s most suc­cess­ful con­ser­va­tion suc­cesses; Old Blue.

Old Blue was the last breed­ing fe­male in New Zealand who helped her species to sur­vive and flour­ish. The species is fa­mous across the globe for its re­cov­ery from im­mi­nent ex­tinc­tion in the early 1980s.

Wilkey, who spent 23 years work­ing in re­mote in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties in Aus­tralia tack­ling trop­i­cal dis­eases, says she has al­ways seen art as a ‘‘hobby’’.

It was only when her fam­ily set­tled in Marl­bor­ough last year that she be­gan to see paint­ing as a pos­si­ble ca­reer.

‘‘There ob­vi­ously isn’t much call for a trop­i­cal dis­ease nurse here.

‘‘I met with the en­viro group and put to­gether some ideas. We then spent a few days find­ing the right one.

‘‘The robin is an in­spir­ing mes­sage of hope in that she re­minds us of how ded­i­ca­tion can bring about change and how we should fo­cus on the en­vi­ron­ment for the fu­ture,’’ she says.

The del­i­cate pen­cil im­age in­cludes na­tive New Zealand flow­ers to rep­re­sent habi­tat. The blue back­ground and the stones rep­re­sent both a river and River­lands School it­self.

‘‘The chil­dren’s hands form the re­cy­cling logo; they are the cus­to­di­ans of the fu­ture.

‘‘We are very ex­cited to present this im­age for the compe- tition and look for­ward to the chance of paint­ing it and en­hanc­ing the school en­vi­ron­ment with this valu­able mes­sage and con­ser­va­tion story,’’ Wilkey said.

Vot­ing closes on May 4 at 9am. To vote for River­lands School visit knzb.org.nz

PHOTO: PAULA HULBURT/STUFF

The River­lands School de­sign team, Tyrese Bris­towe, left, Nel­son Whippy, Janelle Wilkey, Sophia Dil­lon and Jes­sica Beam­s­ley.

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