Art meets heart in Tauranga

Artist, Erika Pearce. Photos: Supplied.

New Zealand’s largest rural art collection that tells the stories of provincial communities is set to swell by one giant new painting.

Over the past two years, Farmlands has been transforming some of its key properties around the country into living works of art.

So far, the project, named the HeART of The Community, has seen Farmlands commission nine enormous murals in rural New Zealand towns; a striking illustration of the co-operative’s commitment to rural communities.

Each of these HeART of The Community murals depicts aspects of rural New Zealand and captures the local community’s spirit, history and environment.

Tauranga has been chosen as the next site. Now New Zealand’s fifth largest city and one of the country’s fastest-growing centres, Tauranga is the gateway to Mount Maunganui and home to a flourishing port.

Putting the ‘plenty’ into Bay of Plenty, it’s also the capital of Kiwifruit and abode of Avocado.

The Tauranga mural will be painted on the side of Tauranga’s Farmlands store, on Taurikura Drive off State Highway 36, during the first week of May.

Award-winning artist Erika Pearce will begin painting her work on Farmlands’ Tauranga store on Sunday April 28. It is expected to take a week to complete and an unveiling event will be staged on Saturday May 4.

Erika Pearce is a multi-disciplinary artist and designer whose award-winning artwork features in collections around the world.

Her work typically reflects her passion for community, culture, the role and contribution of women and the natural world.

In this new work, the culmination of extensive research, community involvement and guidance – she will take her inspiration from Tauranga’s rich history of horticulture.

“I was super excited to be invited to take part in this awesome project. I am really keen on the idea that I should ‘give back’ through my work and I love that I am getting the chance to engage with the Tauranga community,” says Erika.

“My dad grew up on a dairy farm in Taranaki and I had a lot of cousins who also lived on farms. As a kid born and raised in Auckland, I count myself really lucky to have been able to stay with them and get first-hand experience of farm life.

“To tell the truth, I’ve never felt like a city kid. I’ve always felt a strong connection with the people who work with the land.

“It’s clear to me that New Zealand is what it is today thanks to the belief and toil of a lot of hard-working folks living in rural communities. I think as time goes on, we are all looking for better, sustainable ways of living and connecting with our environment. That’s where Farmlands has pitched its tent, so I’m proud to be associated with them on this project, too.”

The Mayor of Tauranga Greg Brownless says it is wonderful that Farmlands has chosen Tauranga for its next HeART of The Community project.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how Erika Pearce reflects Tauranga’s long history of agriculture and horticulture in her mural.

And I’m certain she’ll have a big gallery of locals watching her as she works throughout the week.”

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