Press Release – Auckland Council
Contemporary memorial Learning Your Stripes by artist Regan Gentry brings a vibrant wall of colour to Papatoetoe town centre, celebrating historical aspects of the community and wartime efforts of its people.
The work has transformed Papatoetoe’s RSA facade, as well as the public spaces around it. The work continues into Burnside Park, highlighting significant trees with new poppy red curved benches. A striking feature is the striped wall in the RSA memorial space. Based on ribbons attached to military medals awarded to New Zealand service men and women, it also references the colourful ethnic diversity Papatoetoe enjoys today.
The Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board and Auckland Council Public Art team worked with renowned artist Regan Gentry on the project to revitalise Papatoetoe and celebrate the area’s diverse community and heritage. The project involved a complex mix of stakeholders including the Papatoetoe RSA, Library, Parks, Auckland Transport, Local Board and community.
Kaye Glamuzina, Manager Arts and Culture says: “The work is unusual in that it’s not just an artwork, but an entire public space with interconnected relationships between nature, the built environment and human activity.
“When people think public art, the first thing that springs to mind is a sculpture or mural. What Regan has done is create an entire art environment.”
The interaction of plants and cities is a theme in Gentry’s work, and while heritage trails often celebrate buildings, they can overlook the historic presence of nature visible through trees and plants.
Artist Regan Gentry says: “I looked to invigorate what was already there, and there were already strong visual symbols that had accumulated over time like the Totara, the Norfolk Pine and the RSA flagpole. I also looked at how people used the space. The work creates a bright, lively town centre, and the new seating and paths throughout the park invite the community to relax, enjoy the sunshine and enjoy their surroundings.”
Regan’s work is the first piece of the Otara-Papatoetoe Heritage Trail to be completed. The overall trail runs from Tamaki River Bridge to Kohuora Park. Heritage markers designed by Denis O’Connor will be installed in the coming months as well as a public artwork by Deborah Crowe, which will be revealed in Hunters Corner.