Songs of the sea: Napier artist Cinzah Merken gives a voice to the ocean

by Vivienne Haldane / 08 October, 2017
The tentacles of a giant octopus wrap around the National Aquarium in Napier, part of a large-scale mural created by local artist Cinzah Merkens (pictured left) and Canadian Jason Botkin.

The tentacles of a giant octopus wrap around the National Aquarium in Napier, part of a large-scale mural created by local artist Cinzah Merkens (pictured left) and Canadian Jason Botkin.

Cinzah Merkens describes himself as an “artivist”: an artist who paints for a cause. “It allows me to give voice to something that I believe in,” he says.

As part of the first Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans festival held in Napier last year, Merkens collaborated with Canadian artist Jason Botkin to create this bold mural on the National Aquarium. An octopus wraps its giant tentacles around the curved building, and the dramatic stare of a New Zealand longfin eel – an endangered species – eyeballs passersby. Merkens, who painted the eel, says it’s a species he feels particularly drawn to.

“I guess it goes back to catching eels when I was young; my poppa had tyre traps at the bottom of his section.”

The festival, which was held again in March this year, is run on a volunteer basis and features 53 local and international artists. Rather than being a harbinger of doom, Merkens says, the murals aim to bring a message to the streets – encouraging people to seek solutions for the plight of our oceans. The project is the initiative of the PangeaSeed Foundation, a global organisation that addresses environmental issues such as overfishing, climate change, habitat loss and pollution (pangea is derived from the Greek for “entire earth”).

Merkens moved to Hawke’s Bay from Auckland with his wife and two children, and when he was asked to launch PangeaSeed in New Zealand, he knew he’d found the perfect location. “I thought, ‘Man, this place is beautiful, there’s no shortage of walls and it’s right on the coast.’”

At the first Sea Walls festival, held in Mexico in 2014, he swam with “bus-sized” whale sharks and worked alongside some of his idols, including graffiti and street artists. His passion for making art with meaning has taken him all over the world – most recently to Estonia, where he joined 60 “transgrafiti” mural artists for Mextonia, a festival marking the country’s centennial celebrations and its cultural connections with Mexico.

A map of the Sea Walls murals in Napier is available from the i-SITE Visitor Centre on Marine Parade and also at www.napier.govt.nz.

This was published in the September 2017 issue of North & South.

 

Latest

Mapping the second brain: The latest science on the effect of your gut bacteria
104884 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Health

Mapping the second brain: The latest science on th…

by Donna Chisholm

Most of us have heard the five-plus-a-day message for fruit and vegetables. But new research into gut health suggests that advice may need tweaking.

Read more
How a mother and daughter changed their diet to manage irritable bowel syndrome
104896 2019-04-24 00:00:00Z Nutrition

How a mother and daughter changed their diet to ma…

by Donna Chisholm

A mother and daughter with irritable bowel syndrome say that diet was the missing ingredient in controlling the condition.

Read more
Lack of humility is Simon Bridges' fatal flaw
104881 2019-04-23 00:00:00Z Politics

Lack of humility is Simon Bridges' fatal flaw

by Graham Adams

After low polling and even louder caucus rumblings, you’d expect to see at least a flicker of fear in the eyes of someone threatened with an axe.

Read more
Sri Lankan government's social media ban wrong move after terror attacks
104949 2019-04-23 00:00:00Z World

Sri Lankan government's social media ban wrong mov…

by Meera Selva

Sri Lanka has temporarily banned social media and messaging apps in the wake of the coordinated Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels.

Read more
Why do some dramas require the female protagonists to be total idiots?
104764 2019-04-23 00:00:00Z Television

Why do some dramas require the female protagonists…

by Diana Wichtel

Diana Wichtel reviews SoHo 2’s Cheat and Lightbox’s BBC thriller Trust Me.

Read more
Why the typical NZ household is undergoing a revolution
104877 2019-04-23 00:00:00Z Property

Why the typical NZ household is undergoing a revol…

by Shamubeel Eaqub

We’re living in different places, having fewer kids, living longer and getting older, perhaps lonelier, and the idea of a family has become more fluid

Read more
Detour off E Street: Steven Van Zandt’s solo excursion to NZ
104828 2019-04-22 00:00:00Z Profiles

Detour off E Street: Steven Van Zandt’s solo excur…

by Russell Baillie

The Springsteen sideman and ‘Sopranos’ star is reviving his own music career.

Read more
Rethinking the Kiwi dream: How New Zealanders live now
104848 2019-04-22 00:00:00Z Property

Rethinking the Kiwi dream: How New Zealanders live…

by Sharon Stephenson

Would you live with your ex? New Zealanders increasingly live alone or find creative ways to house themselves.

Read more