Proud Kaitao principal snaps up children’s art at auction
Hard work done on historic Rotorua Bath House tiles to return to school
An impressed Rotorua principal has bought back his own pupils’ artwork from an auction supporting the local museum. The auction was organised and hosted by Friends of Rotorua Museum, held at The Arts Village last Wednesday and overseen by auctioneer Steve Lovegrove. It included 41 painted tiles.
The total of $8810 raised at the auction will be used for museum acquisitions.
Kaitao Intermediate visual art teacher Wendy Stafford says the project, and the subsequent auction was the highlight of her career.
“I can’t even describe how proud I am . . . it’s been a wonderful journey.”
Ten children took part in the painting and, with the help of two teachers, produced 12 tiles for auction.
Wendy estimates each child spent about 30 hours over 10 weeks, including on four Sundays.
The tiles were 115 years old and had come from the Rotorua Bath House. Wendy wondered at the history of them, and the future they had.
“I can see the children of these children coming through and seeing the artwork.”
Eleven-year-old Jayde Phillips created her own masterpiece, styling her blue-themed tile with a painted dreamcatcher.
“It’s unique . . . I enjoyed doing it.” The whānau of two of the children had bought tiles, but the remaining 10 would be displayed in the school.
Principal Phil Palfrey attended the auction, and was the one doing the bidding.
He says he couldn’t let the artwork leave the school after all the children’s hard work, particularly given the high standard it was crafted to.
Having received the go-ahead from the school board, he bought the tiles, which cost about $1300.
“One of our mission statements is about excellence ... these kids persisted and worked really hard on them.”
He says he had not told the pupils he had bought their tiles, and joked that their work had not been popular.
Then, much to their delight, he surprised them with the news that though their tiles had been in demand, they would be returning to the school.
The highest bid was $1750 for a Tame Iti piece, Taku Ira Tanata.
The auction was the brainchild of Friends of the Rotorua Museum
member Jo-anne La Grouw, who was delighted with the success of the evening.
“It was great to have the support of the artists and to see so many bidders at the auction.”
The Friends help contribute to the museum collection of works relevant to the Rotorua District.