Gemma Farrell is passionately dedicated to creating beautiful and meaningful art inspired by the natural world, so when she was offered the opportunity of creating a mural for the Good Earth Matters’ building she jumped at the chance. As Gemma had recently completed her degree at UCOL and was stepping out into the world of self-employment, it was perfect synchronicity.
The mural was commissioned as a collaboration between Good Earth Matters and the Palmerston North City Council, with the dual purpose of beautifying our city and sending a message that encapsulated what Good Earth Matters is all about. The company was adamant that they didn’t want to use the wall as an advertisement, but to encourage an appreciation of environmental, sustainability and community values environmental conservation and consideration within our daily lives, - values that are at the very core of the environmental engineering and resource management company.
Gemma invited another local artist, Mikal Carter, to join her in this huge undertaking which required 85 litres of paint, 140 400ml cans of spray paint and 200 hours of their time. Gemma attributes the success of her proposal to the knowledge she gained in UCOL, where, as well as being encouraged to experiment in just about any medium, she learnt the art of presenting a professional proposal.
It was vital to Gemma and Mikal that the mural was intrinsically New Zealand, that it embodied the principles of Maori Lore while also embracing the many other and varied cultures that populate our nation. They wanted to communicate the life that flows from mother earth, feeding and nurturing the land, the vegetation, the wildlife and the people who call New Zealand home, silently illustrating the importance of our reciprocated care and respect.
Gemma took on the role of Project Manager, but the artistic input was an equal partnership, with each artist working to their specific expertise. Gemma and Mikal are both strongly self-motivated, however their satisfaction stems from different areas of the creative process. Gemma is constantly uplifted by the energy she gets from those who stop to watch or talk. She loves the connection she develops with those coming and going within their own daily lives, and feels a real sense of community in the process. Mikal is more introspective with his creations and becomes immersed by his work and the transferring of his ideas onto the canvas. Gemma believes his true satisfaction is in the finished work, while hers is in the journey of creating it.
Palmerston North offers massive opportunity for street art beautification, and Gemma is incredibly excited to be coming in at the ground level of this growing trend. Having been inspired by an artistic father, supported by a creative husband and encouraged by other talented artists, Gemma aspires to pay forward her good fortune by working with youth, channelling what could otherwise be destructive behaviour into creative self-expression. When asked if seeing her work tagged (as happened part way through the mural creation) was terribly upsetting, Gemma commented that it just reinforces her determination to work towards providing an opportunity for kids who need an outlet.
Ultimately, Gemma and Mikal wanted to create a mural that emotionally engaged people and encompassed both the values of Good Earth Matters and the atmosphere of Aotearoa. To be told that ‘looking at their art work makes them feel the magic of being in the bush at sunrise’ is every bit equally as rewarding for them as being paid to do what they love to do.