Kaumātua Henare Kani and Councillor Rachel Bowen, who chairs Palmerston North City Council's Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee, unveiled the sign on 22 March. In Māori and English, the sign acknowledges Āpiti artist Eric Brew and the mosaics he created for nine planter boxes in King Street in 1999.
The sign is next to the planter box opposite Regent Arcade and explains the mosaics have links to Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother. “Brew reminds us that we live here amongst the hills and trees of the Manawatū,” the sign reads. “His mosaics celebrate the quality of life inherent in Te Ao Mārama – the natural world.”
The planter boxes and some of the mosaic work have been repaired as part of the Council's care of public artworks. Rangitāne kaumātua Wiremu Te Awe Awe blessed the refurbishment.
Brew says he is honoured his is the first public artwork to have a bilingual sign.
The planter boxes are listed on the Palmerston North Public Art Register and included in the Palmerston North City Centre Arts Trail Guide.
The mosaics add to the quirkiness of King Street and are a reminder to look up, look down, and look across when walking around the inner city, Palmerston North City Council Arts Coordinator Gillian Tasker says.
King Street, with its towering palm trees, is framed to the east by the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit’s striking white tower and spectacular sunsets to the west.
Repairing the mosaic planter boxes and composing and creating the sign were completed in time for the opening of the retrospective exhibition, Eric Brew: I am of this, at Te Manawa.
“We welcome feedback from the public on the sign,” Ms Tasker says. “The easiest way to do this is email me at email@example.com.” The feedback will guide refinements for future signs.
“Eric has made a valuable contribution to public art in Palmerston North, including the reproduction of the Centennial Mural in the Council's Customer Service Centre and the Trustpower Mural with four small watercolour studies on the ground floor of the Civic Administration Building,” Ms Tasker says.
“He is also well known in Feilding for his murals and for his work as an art teacher there.”