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21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Monday, 1 August 2016

Hundertwasser Happy Faces

Welcome back to term 3 at Mairtown Kindergarten. We hope all our whānau enjoyed some relaxing and much needed time together enjoying the warm winter weather we are having. This blog post is about something I wanted to share with you all last term, but time got away. Here is the story of the wonderful work of the Hundertwasser Happy Faces.

A couple of months ago we were approached by local group HAC (Hundertwasser Art Centre) to create some Hundertwasser inspired happy faces for a community building. For our readers outside the Whangarei area here is a bit of the background story:
‘In 1993, Hundertwasser was invited by the Mayor of Whangarei to design an art centre for the city. He chose the former Northland Harbour Board building in the Town Basin and made a number of visits to study the building and sketch his ideas.
More than 20 years after inception, the HUNDERTWASSER ART CENTRE with Wairau Māori Art Gallery project is now in the final pre-construction stages.
Now a fully community-led project, the completed art centre is scheduled to open by 2019 (HAC).’

This community building – the Old Harbour Building – will soon be transformed into a Hundertwasser art centre, but in the meantime, it definitely needed some attention. At Mairtown kindergarten we thought it was a fabulous idea to support the initiative of beautifying the building with children’s art and soon many of our children were creating Hundertwasser faces, in a self-portrait style.

The children at Mairtown are very familiar with Friedensreich Hundertwasser as an artist. Hundertwasser uses a lot of bright colours, often leaving no hint of the white paper he began with and this tends to naturally appeal to children. He also represents many aspects of his work, in an almost childlike manner and as the children of Mairtown know, Hundertwasser was not a believer in straight lines! With their knowledge of Hundertwasser art, the children immediately fell into creating their faces with enthusiasm, understanding and a great deal of expertise.

As always when I support children in their creative work, there are moments when children can get ‘stuck’, sometimes they may make a mistake or complete half their work and have problems imagining ideas to help them move forward. When moments like this occur I always invite the children to ‘Think like an artist’. This simple phrase, is one the children instinctively understand, as of course, they are already artists.  When they begin to really ‘think’ as they feel an artist would – answers comes readily and easily. One such example I can share was Sadie’s Hundertwasser face, she was well underway and delighted with her progress when she made a mistake! She clearly wasn’t happy with her mistake and asked if she could begin a new picture; but instead I invited her to think like an artist, ‘If you think like an artist Sadie, what might an artist do with the mistake you just made’. Within moments she had clarity and her mistake became her mouth. Her finished Happy Face is spectacular.

Sadie's completed Happy face
Thinking like an artist is a technique I use a great deal as it encourages children to look more closely at things, to make connections between different things and ideas, to find beauty in everyday objects, to persist where others may give up and (as Sadie demonstrated) to take risks exposing yourself to mistakes or failure and learning how to cope with these (Art Junction).


We know many of our Mairtown artists have been down to visit their own work on display as well as appreciate the faces created by some other local schools. This in itself is also a wonderful learning opportunity for them, as Friedrich Froebel suggests, young children should be involved in both making their own art and enjoying the art of others…as this encourages each child's "full and all-sided development" (Froebel, 1826).

The Hundertwasser Art Centre told us before we began this project alongside them 'we think it is very apt to put happy children's faces in Hundertwasser style smiling out from that wall. It gives the right message that this is all about the future of our children in this city. ' 

Mairtown's art on display (photo HAC)

I think you can see from these pictures that this building has gone from, in all honesty, a bit of an eye sore to something, bright, creative and inspiring as well as letting our children know that their work is precious, something to be valued and respected.  For anyone wishing to find out more about HAC you can visit their Facebook page here or webpage here.

From this.....

To this!

Some more of the completed Happy faces.

By doing art, students can create and communicate new ideas. By seeing art, students can be inspired by new directions and new ideas (Haydock)

When we dream alone it is only a dream, but when many dream together it is the beginning of a new reality (Friedensreich Hundertwasser).

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Edgar Degas

Ngā mihi nui,

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