Growth - the Story of a Mural

The College is the very proud owner of its very first Mural, the brainchild of Member Ella Green. The recently completed Mural is just wonderful and the College is so grateful to Ella, her mother (for specialist advice from a distance!) and Ella's group of College friends who helped with the painting. Here is Ella's story of the Mural...

My name is Ella Green, and I am the artist behind the new Mural on the wall of Clyde Wing at St Margaret’s College. I have been painting for most of my life, usually with acrylic, watercolour or ink pen, although I am continually experimenting with my style. In 2019 I received the Glover award for Excellence in Visual Art, as well as coming first in NCEA Level 3 Art. I also received Visual and Technical Arts Honours in 2018 and 2019.

The idea of painting a Mural first occurred to me while I was complaining to my Mum about how much I missed doing art every day at school. She suggested that I ask Dr Tustin about doing a Mural for the college. I thought ‘why not’, and mentioned it to him on a whim. I was very surprised when he was actually interested!

After that, I realised I should probably decide what exactly I wanted to paint. I began my design process by doing quick, freehand sketches of some elements I was interested in using. Things like plants, birds, people, shapes, anything that came into my mind. At one point I considered trees and buildings, possibly even the famous clocktower. I had painted a mural before, a much bigger one at my high school. I wanted this one to be even better than the last.

Ella Green's Mural — Image by: Ella Green

I discussed my ideas with my Mum, who is also an artist, and my friends to get their perspectives. I had already decided that I wanted the Mural to be specific and relevant to St Margaret’s. I considered all the things I liked about this place – and after much thought, the aspect I decided to focus on was the idea of growth. For most of us, Margs is the first place we come to after leaving home. It is here that we truly begin to grow up, and become our own people.

Ella Green's Mural — Image by: Ella Green

The design process took several weeks to complete. Once I had decided on my theme, I began doing a series of concept sketches to further refine my idea.

At the end of this process, I had a scaled down version of what the mural would eventually look like, down to the last detail.

One of the most challenging parts of the design process was deciding on the colour scheme – I painted many, many versions of the design in all manner of colours. I wanted something bright and bold, but that was hard to achieve without accidentally creating an eyesore. I also didn’t want a huge range of colours, because that would make the mural too busy. It was a difficult process. Luckily, I had the help of some good friends (thanks Tim and Charlotte) who offered their opinions when I could no longer form any of my own.

Ella Green's Mural — Image by: Ella Green

After the design was finalised, I went with Alf the College's Building Maintenance Supervisor to get the paint and materials. This was pretty exciting, and it felt like everything was finally coming together. Alf was very helpful in recommending the right paintbrushes, and even offered to paint the undercoat to prepare the wall for the mural (thanks Alf ????).

Then, finally, it was time to get started on the real thing! With the help of a few friends, I used masking tape to measure out the borders of the design, along with dividing the geometric sections. Then came the most tricky part – transferring the design from a piece of paper barely larger than my hand, to an area 2.6m tall and 3.6m long. This was slightly easier than it had been with my previous mural, as the geometric sections provided some reference. My strategy was to draw the design on by eye with chalk until I was happy with it, and then go over the line with paint. I could then delegate these areas to my willing volunteers, who would paint within these lines. It was quite an effective system, and one I will probably continue using in my future work.

Ella Green's Mural — Image by: Ella Green

We began painting on the 21st of September, and finished on the 13th of October, 2020. From when I first mentioned the idea to Dr Tustin, to completion, the whole process has taken about 4 months. It has been a great experience. I have really enjoyed being able to utilise my creative talent, and also create something beautiful for the college. I would like to thank everyone who helped me during this process – Charlotte, Becca, Kathryn, Maddy, Madeline, Tim, Charlie, Ursula, Stuart, Louisa, Amiria, Libby, Sam, and Brenna. It was great working with you all, thank you for taking the time out of your day to paint with me ????. Thank you to Dr Tustin, for entertaining my spontaneous idea, and finally thank you to my Mum, Amanda, whose artistic expertise has been an invaluable resource.

Ella Green's Mural — Image by: Ella Green

I hope to do a lot more projects like this in the future - I have been elected Arts Rep for 2021, and it is my goal to continue to promote visual art here at the college. Expect to see more from me in the future!

Ella Green's Mural — Image by: Ella Green

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Posted: Friday October 16, 2020