Painting a forest for Oropi School

Suzy Cels with the forest that is Oropi. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

The more you look, the more animals and creatures you will find – just like a hidden object game.

This is all on the new shipping container found in the grounds of Oropi School.

The painting shows Oropi School Forest painted by local artist Suzy Cels.

“It’s very organic,” she says. “We didn’t really know what we were doing most of the time but that’s how I roll with some of my paintings admittedly. It’s a forest and it just grew.

“I worked out I wanted some really good depth into it so the kids could look deeply into it. I’ve tried to fill it with all the animals and things from around this area – there’s a possum, there’s a deer – and what I’m going to do is keep adding the odd ones, so it’s actually like a little game that the kids keep looking and finding new things.

“The kids are even now going into it and seeing what I’ve done, and I say to the kids that I teach from Oropi School: ‘did you go and look at the container? Is there anything new there? Have you seen anything new?’”

The paint was donated by Resene and Suzy says she loved painting the pohutukawa on the door.

“That was really cool. That came together quite nicely. I loved putting the colour in, because there’s a lot of green, and then it’s got the lake in the middle. I just loved putting in the reds. I’m very colour-orientated and I love putting the colour into it.”

Painting the 20-foot container is Suzy’s biggest commission that she has done to date. She says people’s reactions to it have been very positive.

She has been putting updates up on her Facebook page, but says to really see it, you have to see it in person.

“I am quite proud of it I have to say.”

The purpose for this container is to be turned into an outdoor kitchen. It has been modified by Containers BOP.

The school has been developing a community garden in the heart of the school since 2016 and it has been integrated into the school curriculum.

“For the past two years we have implemented the garden to table program in our school, which means that all the school children get to garden and get to use the produce from the garden to prepare some meals,” says project co-ordinator Amandine Monsaingeon.

“This has been a really popular programme both with the school children, but also with the whole community because there’s a lot of community involvement in this programme.

“Part of this big garden project and getting the community together have been to have a kitchen in the heart of the garden. So far the garden to table programme has been happening between the garden and the community hall which is a couple of hundred metres down the road which has been wonderful, but it’s not at all practical.

“We’re just a few thousand dollars away from being able to make this outdoor kitchen facility functional.

“This kitchen is going to be both a community facility, so at the disposal of anybody in the community who wants to run events or workshops, and a facility for running the garden to table programme within our school.

“It is also going to be a fresh food outlet with food made by the children or the community when we have school wide events.”

Amandine says the new kitchen container is very precious to the school to have the contribution and collaboration of Suzy Cels.

They are still looking for some funding to help with the project. If anyone or business is interested in contributing, they can contact the school office.