Live Artist Creates Girls’ School History

July 01, 2021 at 3:41 PM

As a symbol of the Girls’ School’s transition to the new school situated on Shore Road at the beginning of 2022, the Middle School had an artwork created. Local artist, Harris Keenan visited the Middle School students this week and created a piece of art for the girls to hang in their new school. 

With Harris being a live artist and illustrator who is inspired by nostalgia, architecture, music and people, the Girls’ School Drawing Room was abuzz as his drawing came to life in real time. Harris was given a small brief to work with and had small groups of girls visiting him throughout the day to share their thoughts. From this, he created a magnificent piece of art that showed the individual and collective identity of our students and Saint Kentigern. 

The image demonstrated Saint Kentigern as a school rich in tradition, heritage and diversity through recognisable symbols, images and icons, such as the bird, the tree, the bell and the fish in Saint Kentigern’s story, and also the girls’ Houses, Hamilton, Chalmers, Cargill, and Wishart. 

Harris said he loves to create ‘little worlds’ in his drawings and that he loved the idea of Saint Kentigern Girls' School's four Houses, Hamilton, Chalmers, Cargill, and Wishart. With the Houses in mind, Harris created representations of theses by drawing big 'Houses' and small houses, towers, and boats under these to represent a ‘village’, being the 'village' of students. He created a ‘tree village’ for Hamilton, to represent the pet robin in Saint Kentigern’s story, a large ship for Chalmers, to represent the fish, a tree hut for Cargill, to represent the tree, and a bell tower, to represent Wishart and the bell. 

All of the girls had the chance to meet Harris and talk to him about his art. They also gave him an insight into who they are and where they come from by answering a series of questions from which Harris could draw each girl ‘into’ the canvas. 

This was a unique opportunity for the girls to share what they have learned about their identity and heritage throughout the course of the term. As each student shared their story with Harris, they were able to consolidate their learning around whakapapa, migration and how the history of Aotearoa has been shaped by their stories. For centuries, Māori have celebrated oral history and art as a medium for recording significant moments in time. The girls were able to experience the power of their stories which will become a taonga for the new school. 

By the end of the day, the canvas was full of life and ready to hang in the new school! 

We thank Harris for his work and talent, the artwork will be something that the girls will cherish forever. 

We also thank Middle School teacher, Anna McLaren for all her hard work in organising this special event.  


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