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New artworks turn Buller streetscapes into galleries

07 Jun 2023

Bland cabinets across Buller have been turned into lively artworks by talented artists thanks to a partnership between Chorus and Buller District Council.

Mayor Jamie Cleine says the work does a great job of celebrating the Buller at its best, both the community and the natural environment.

“It’s great to make the best use of the infrastructure – using Chorus cabinets as a blank canvas for local artists helps bring vibrancy to our towns.” he said.

Over the past year the programme has created four new pieces of public art from talented artists.

Artist Emma Timmis has used her works to celebrate much about Reefton, in particular its history as the first place in New Zealand to have electric light.

“I asked on the local Facebook group what people thought represented Reefton in summer and winter. I then incorporated those ideas into the two cabinets, one showing a summer scene with fantails and the river, and the other a frosty winter scene lit by our famous lantern,” says Emma.

A school project inspired Westport students from Westport’s St Canice’s School to promote an important Westland species.

“We had been learning about the importance of Longfin eels and how we need to raise awareness about them. These species are endangered, so we wanted an inspiring art piece to help raise the profile of these eels, " says Bella Riley, on behalf of team. The students worked with a local artist, Ruth Vaega, to complete the work.

Finally in Brougham Street a scene of jellyfish drifting through space brings an alternative subsea environment to the roadside.

“The project is a great way of bringing art into everyday life – where art belongs, not just hanging on a gallery wall in a far-off city,” says the artist Toroa Charteris, who worked with fellow artist Wendy Currie to create the aquatic space escape.

Chorus Community Relations Manager Jo Seddon says the Chorus cabinet art programme started as an experiment to stop graffiti in 2010 but has been phenomenally successful.

“It’s resulted in hundreds of cabinets across the country becoming bright artworks, which are now rarely affected by graffiti. Added to that, the programme has helped some talented artists further their careers.

“We are particularly pleased with the work this year in Buller.”

Work is now under way to select the cabinets for the next round and artists can keep an eye on the Chorus website for when submissions open, usually around 1 July.


further information please contact:
Team Leader Community Engagement and Communications
Mira Schwill