Artist Mauricio Benega working on his 40m-long mural in Hastings. SUPPLIED
A building in the middle of Hastings is coming alive at the hands of artist Mauricio Benega.
The blues and greens of the 40-metre mural are inspired by "the Hastings lifestyle - the architecture, landmarks, weather, our beautiful coastline, bike trails, and our amazing food, wine and coffee culture," said Benega.
The artwork is the first in a project being run by Creative Hastings, backed by the Hastings District Council, which will see several "tired" buildings ear-marked for rejuvenation.
Pitsch Leiser, Community Arts Development Manager for Creative Hastings, said the public art project is about inspiring a sense of community pride and reducing tagging in the city centre.
"Public murals inject life and vibrancy into the city and give people the opportunity to enjoy free art. They are also far less likely to be targeted by vandals," he says.
The first work is at 118 Market Street, running through the alleyway between Market and King Streets, and into the car parking area behind Sutto Café. It is expected to be completed by the end of this week, weather permitting.
The Brazil-born artist emigrated to New Zealand in 2004. He now lives and works as a full-time artist in Hastings. He is no stranger to creating public space murals.
In October 2015, he was one of 11 nationally recognised artists commissioned by the Hastings District Council to produce a mural for theHawke’s Bay Opera House fence as part of the 100-year celebrations. He is also responsible for the striking mural on the wall of the Clive Memorial Pool.
Before moving to Hawke’s Bay, Benega was the driving force behind a Safer Papakura initiative, which saw large graffiti-art murals created by South Auckland students.
"To this day, none of the murals have been tagged, which shows the pride and respect the community has in these public artworks," says Benega.
Hastings City Business Association Manager Susan McDade says the Hastings mural project follows in the footsteps of many other New Zealand cities where street art has received positive feedback from the community.
"It’s going to add a vibrant new flavour to the city landscape," she said. "I can’t wait to see the finished product."