Unveiled: The work of art with an important message


23 May 2019

The unveiling of the White Ribbon painting with Whanganui DHB chief executive Russell Simpson, kaumatua John Maihi, DHB board chair Dot McKinnon, artist Dan Mills, and child and youth mortality review co-ordinator Terry Sarten.


An impressive artwork has pride of place in Whanganui Hospital’s main corridor after an unveiling ceremony on Friday 17 May.


Artist Dan Mills’ eye-catching interpretation of the White Ribbon campaign against domestic violence is a striking piece of work with a message.


It has pride of place on the hospital’s ground floor, opposite the doors to the outdoor recreation area.


And that’s a pleasing result for the man behind the project, Terry Sarten, child and youth mortality review co-ordinator for both Whanganui and MidCentral district health boards.


White Ribbon is a cause close to Sarten’s heart and for White Ribbon day on November 23 last year, he wanted to do something special.


“I had been to the 24-hour Art Jam in Whanganui where the public could watch artists spend 24 hours creating a piece, and I knew of Dan’s work and so talked to him about doing something ‘live’.”


The result was that Mills – whose giant murals have become a feature of the city – set up his canvas in the hospital foyer and spent four hours creating the work.


“People would stop and ask about it and it was an opportunity for us to pass on the White Ribbon message,” Sarten said.


“Myself and my colleagues see family violence in all sorts of forms and in all sorts of contexts.


Ailsa Stewart stands beside her display of memorabilia with cabinet-maker Mark Thompson.

“White Ribbons speaks to men and calls on them to be pro-active about sending a message to their peers and to their children about how they should behave.


“The power of the painting is having the Whanganui River as a white ribbon running through our community, showing that everyone has a part to play in how we tackle family violence.


“It’s great that Dan has chosen to donate the painting to the hospital, and now it will continue to give that message.”


At Friday’s unveiling, the painting was blessed by kaumatua John Maihi, with DHB board chair Dot McKinnon cutting the ribbon.


Materials for the artwork were donated by local businesses Meteor Office Products, Mitre 10 and Philp-Wrights.


Following the unveiling, there was also a blessing for a new cabinet full of hospital archives, also situated on the ground floor.


The collection includes a silver tea service, plates, cups and saucers, placemats … and even a ticket to a Masked Ball.


The display is part of the work of enthusiastic archivist Ailsa Stewart who was supported by Mark Thompson of The Doorshoppe, who built the cabinet.


*For more on the White Ribbon campaign, visit: https://whiteribbon.org.nz/