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Our first artist

We are delighted to announce that our curatorial advisors have selected an artist to deliver the first artwork in the Font Tauranga public art collection. Peata Larkin — Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa — said she was “overwhelmed” to be awarded the Red Square commission, and notes:

“We have friends and whānau that live in Tauranga, so we visit often. When I was young, we made heaps of day trips over as Rotorua is not that far away from here. It is an honour to be chosen to create an artwork that celebrates Toi Māori and Tauranga’s natural and historical attributes. I am hoping that it will entice people to walk/run/ride through it, to congregate within and around it, and to contemplate what it means to them and others.”

Peata’s design, which will be revealed in full when the work is installed later this year, acknowledges Tauranga Moana’s place as a safe anchorage.

Font’s independent curatorial advisory panel of Karl Chitham, Julie Paama-Pengelly, and Serena Bentley said “Peata Larkin’s proposal will be a landmark work for the city centre. It responds sensitively to the local environment while making an impact and reflects the culturally rich histories and whakapapa of the site. We think this will be one of those works that locals will love and visitors will seek out.”

Co-chair Vanessa Hamm said Font owed its start to enthusiastic support from Tauranga City Council and TECT, which had agreed to fund the first artwork with a grant of $150,000 each. The $300,000 project budget covers all costs from consent to construction, including materials, manufacture, and artist’s fee.

Commissioner Anne Tolley said she expected public funding of the first artwork would prove the value of the Font concept, and encouraged private businesses to step forward with support for subsequent artworks. “We’re proud to be supporting this first commission and are looking forward to seeing this and future artwork led by Font adding vibrancy to the city centre over the coming years.”

TECT Chair Bill Holland said working together with TCC and Font for this art installation is exciting as it links to the city centre revitalisation. Incorporating a significant art installation in the city centre will add more vibrancy to what is planned to be a captivating space for locals and visitors.

Font’s Ngāi Tamarāwaho trustee Ngairo Eruera said, “The hapū is excited at the prospect of a modern public art installation that captures the dynamism and diversity of the Tauranga community, while being rooted in its deeper histories and environmental relationships.”

Hamm says Font has audacious plans to create a collection of several artworks for placement throughout the city centre, creating a drawcard for Tauranga and enriching the experience of living in our seaside city. “Our intention is that these artworks not only become iconic landmarks of Tauranga Moana, but that they help nourish creative spirit in our arts community and inspire a love of all things creative in younger generations.”