Songs of the sea: Napier artist Cinzah Merken gives a voice to the oceanby Vivienne Haldane
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.
“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.
Mike White heads up the Cromwell-Tarras road to merino and wine country.Read more
Idris Elba, Ruth Wilson, Hermione Norris, Wunmi Mosaku and Michael Smiley answer questions about the future of the dark and disturbing crime drama.Read more
Some families of Pike River mine victims suspect a piece of vital evidence may have been spirited away by the mining company and lost.Read more
Making Auckland a liveable city is an unenviable task, writes Bill Ralston, but it's clear the mayor needs more power.Read more
Northland kaumātua, master carver, navigator and bridge builder Hec Busby was hoping for “no fuss” when he accepted a knighthood.Read more
The story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a heroine of French literature, focuses on her early struggles.Read more
Complacently relying on algorithms can lead us over a cliff – literally, in the case of car navigation systems.Read more