Hastings Public Art Walking Tours

There might be 50 years between but they have a common passion – art.

Hastings Girls High School student Ella Ayto and artist John Eaden are the hosts of the first of four walking tours around public art in Hastings central city, organised by Hastings City Art Gallery.

Thirteen pieces have been chosen as the focus of the tours – to be held four time over the year. They traverse a range of styles, from mural painting and carving, to stencil art, metalwork and stained glass.

Ayto has been volunteering at the gallery since January. She intends studying art history at Victoria University once she finishes school. Her favourite piece on the art tour is Jacob Scott’s Kaitiaki Manu, outside the Hastings Courthouse.  “I really like the symbolism – the bird as the caretaker; the use of black and white for darkness and light; good and evil. It is very clever.”

Eaden’s favourite is the 1956 Peter McIntyre World War II painting. “For me it is the scale of the work and the restrained colour of it – it is an impressive work by a significant New Zealand artist.”

The pair were at St Matthew’s Anglican Church last week, which is also on the tour for its historic stained glass windows. The 10 windows span the ages, put in over the decades from the early 1900s. The window above the altar in the church’s Lady Chapel is likely to be a focus of the tour guides – one of the oldest windows in the church. The Karl Parsons work was one of his first commissions for a church in New Zealand. It was donated by Lady Harriette Julia Russell in memory of her husband Sir Willian Russell and six of the couple’s sons.

Hastings City Art Gallery director Toni MacKinnon said Hastings is home to some real art treasures. “The stories behind the pieces and their artists are fascinating and we wanted to put together an interesting and interactive way for people to learn about them.

“Having two tour guides who are so excited by the project is an absolute bonus – they will bring the stories of the art to life.”

The first of the free art tours will be held this Saturday, October 14. Tourers should meet at the entrance to the Hastings City Art Gallery for an 11.00am start. The summer tour will be held in January, the autumn one in April and the winter tour in June.