More icons on way - arts inc

Original icon: Granny Maher starred in the first rounds of icons.

A fresh batch of famous faces will be popping up in the Hastings Central City, as stage two of the Hastings Icons project gets underway in June.

The brainchild of screen print artist Adrian Thornton and writer Jess Soutar Barron, Hastings Icons was devised as a way of sharing stories from our region’s past.

The first Icons were created in 2016, with a series of eight stencil spray-painted artworks appearing on blank walls east of the railway line. Each artwork celebrates a unique slice of Hastings’ history and is accompanied by a QR code, which viewers can scan to find out more information about the subject.

Originally designed as temporary installations, the artworks are created on poster stock and pasted to the walls of buildings, giving them a slightly subversive, ‘street art’ vibe. Despite their temporary nature, the Icons have quickly become a prominent fixture in the Hastings inner city.

With Stage One of the project complete, Thornton is mounting an exhibition of the artworks at the Hastings Community Art Centre in Russell Street. Opening on Monday the 19th of June for two weeks, the exhibition will feature a mix of existing Icons and a sneak preview of four new Icons to be featured during stage two of the project. Alongside each piece, Thornton will display his stencils, giving viewers an insight into the evolution of the finished works.

The subjects of the artworks vary widely and include captains of industry, artists and sportspeople. Many are household names, such as architect John Scott, artist Rita Angus and Sir James Wattie, founder of the eponymous canning factory.

Others, such as New Zealand fighter pilot Edgar ‘Cobber’ Kain are less well known. Famed for his exploits during WWII, the Hastings-born pilot was legendary for his bravado and killer instinct, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Kain, who Thornton describes as “the original boy racer” is just one of the fascinating stories to emerge as a result of this project. Thornton hopes the public artworks will evoke a sense of pride and help people feel the “weight of history around the city.”

The Hastings Icons project has been made possible with support from the Hastings District Council City Vibrancy Fund and Arts Inc. Heretaunga. - supplied by arts inc Heretaunga