Artist’s grant boon for art-loving pupils

Painting a picture . . . Local artist Alice Blake and the pupils of Tokoiti School are excited by the prospect of more murals like this one, depicting the solar system, to be painted around their school in Milton. PHOTO: EVELYN THORN

Pupils are thrilled to see an art project continue to evolve at their Milton primary school.

Local artist Alice Blake was recently given a grant for a beautification project at Tokoiti School through the Clutha District Council Creative Communities funding scheme.

The funding has given Blake the opportunity to expand a mural project at the school of 27 pupils.

She said the project had spiraled from a few ‘‘here and there’’ murals around the school to creating many more pops of colour and brightening up walls and buildings.

She was excited to further develop art around the school — including a ‘‘fairy tree’’ — following inspiration she received from a friend.

‘‘I really love that I was able to get the funding, because Tokoiti has been hoping for something. It’s an amazing school,’’ she said.

Tokoiti pupils were excited to see what was next to be created.

‘‘We love to go around and find the new paintings because it’s kind of like a treasure hunt,’’ one youngster said.

‘‘I really like the paintings because they brighten up the school and attract new people to the school.’’

The pupils collectively said more paintings and art would make a ‘‘fun’’ difference, and they ‘‘really loved’’ the solar system, aquarium and daffodil murals Mrs Blake had already painted for their school.

She appreciated the cooperation of the school when it came to her art on the walls.

‘‘I’m so excited to do the school up more, and I’m even more excited that I have almost a blank canvas with the entire area,’’ she said.

‘‘You finish the murals and when you get to see the kids’ faces it’s such an amazing feeling. I work with them and ask suggestions, and they’re always incredibly helpful.’’

The murals were of particular interest to one new pupil, she said.

‘‘My son has been here for three weeks and wasn’t sure at first but seeing his mum’s work on the walls, it made him feel at home. That’s what I aim to do for all the kids here — if a lot of the kids want something specific done, I’ll do it so hopefully they get the feeling they’re at home too,’’ she said.

Clutha District Council chief executive Steve Hill said the council had a partnership with Creative New Zealand to promote, support and increase participation in community arts and cultural activities in the district.

‘‘Each year the council invites people to apply to the scheme for funding. To be a successful recipient your project must meet the criteria set by Creative NZ.’’