Mural celebrating region’s past a hit

Memory lane . . . Taking a look at the new mural are residents and staff members (from left) Graeme Hamilton, Jim Burnett, Rhonda McIntosh, Shirley Tonks, Colleen Whiting, Jill Lienert, Rita Hight, Margaret Vincent, nurse manager Jenny Purdon, Kay Stubbs, nurse Sophie Whytock and Anne Rennie. PHOTOS: CONNOR HALEY

A new mural at Margaret Wilson Home is reminding residents and visitors of the magic of memories.

The mural, which adorns the foyer of the Presbyterian Support South Canterbury resthome, depicts scenes from around South Canterbury like Caroline Bay, Aoraki/Mt Cook, Stafford St and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Lake Tekapo.

A film reel of photographs of years gone by then stretches across the different landmarks.

The idea for the mural was the brain child of Robbie Rankin from P & W Painters.

He said the idea came to him while he was doing a refurbishment of the home’s hallways and lounge spaces.

‘‘We came to sorting out the main foyer and we were just going to pick a wallpaper to match all the others.

‘‘I thought to myself, ‘why don’t we do something a bit more special than that?’.

‘‘So I had this idea of creating a mural with some old images of South Canterbury weaving their way through.

‘‘I just had the thought of this old photo or film reel rolling through the middle.

‘‘More than anything, being a rest-home I thought it might just be a good conversation starter for the residents.’’

Mr Rankin presented and had his design approved by the home’s staff and work began on turning his idea into reality.

‘‘I approached Copyfast and sat down with the amazing Barbara Andrasity and I drew a sketch of what I thought it would look like.

‘‘I trawled the internet looking for photos that would look good enough blown up, and the finished product ended up looking a million times better than I ever could have dreamed about.’’

Snapshot . . . The new mural at Margaret Wilson Home depicts scenes from around South Canterbury, as well as photographs capturing the region’s past.

Residents were immediately taken by the mural, he said.

‘‘Even before we had properly hung it, the residents were stopping by to talk about things and recognising people and places, which was great because that was the whole point.’’

Margaret Wilson Home nurse manager Jenny Purdon said she loved the way the mural evoked memories of South Canterbury.

‘‘Residents here have lived in and have had a background in Timaru for a long time.

‘‘When you’ve got people who have been here 85, 90 or even 100 years you’ve got a lot of Timaru history just living here.

‘‘The residents were just amazed as it was going up and as it progressed they were just looking at all the memories.’’

She said one of the images in the mural actually featured her father.

‘‘A lot of residents have also seen people they know in them, it’s been really great.

‘‘We’ve even had visitors pop in and recognise people and places, the feedback has been great.’’

When the mural was first pitched to her she did not realise how powerful it would be.

‘‘It’s just got such a big impact and really stimulates memories.

‘‘It’s almost like a living wall, you’re constantly looking at it as you go past.

‘‘Robbie has really captured a wide variety of things that were really meaningful for South Canterbury back in the day.’’

Resident Margaret Vincent, who had spent her entire life in South Canterbury, said she was awestruck by the new mural.

‘‘It’s a big showstopper because there is always somebody who can relate to some part of it.

‘‘I’ve seen massive changes here in my lifetime, the bay was the place I used to go to a lot when I was very very small.

‘‘I’ve seen huge changes there with the likes of hydro disappearing, which didn’t seem to ever want to go down.’’

She said the mural brought back a lot of memories for her.

‘‘It’s really refreshing and it really brings your past back.

‘‘When you get to my age you forget a lot of bits and pieces and all of a sudden you’re woken up with Mt Cook, it’s just great.

‘‘It’s really nice seeing all the old black and white photos of old clubs and sporting things, especially the pictures of the bands.’’

Mrs Vincent said one of the funniest memories it brought back for her was when she was at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Lake Tekapo.

‘‘I was sitting there with my sister. We took a big bag of apples down and we took the children down and we were sitting there peeling apples and eating them.

‘‘One of the first big buses came with some overseas visitors on it and they all got off and started taking photos of us and we were just sitting there eating apples among the tussocks, it was quite funny.

‘‘It’s an amazing piece of yesteryear and I think yesteryear is the big thing when you come into a place like this.

‘‘When you’re faced with a mural like this, it’s just wonderful.’’