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We are delighted to share with you the latest addition to the Art collection commissioned by the library, now displayed in the canteen. Last year Lily Laita – our long serving HOD approached the library suggesting they commission a painting and that she had the perfect student in mind. Since arriving into KHCL and then the Covid Pandemic, there had not been any new paintings commissioned. Lily thought it was a good time to start the commission back up.

The student Lily had in mind was Painter – Rufus Holmes (Y13 in 2023). After Lily’s passing Rufus was asked to dedicate this commission in some way to Lily.

Here is his description of the works – acrylic paint on canvas I wanted my artworks for Lily to represent both her and the connection I had with her as one of her students. I used many flowers in my works to signify their presence in funerals and the loss of Lily, but also to symbolize Lily herself who flowered while she was alive making beautiful art, teaching and caring for her community and whānau. In these works there are three lilies. The Lily being held out to us in the first painting is meant to symbolize Lily herself with the hands holding it signifying the gift that she is to the world. There is also a peace lily in the same painting, which I painted as my way of saying ‘Rest in Peace Lily’. The last lily which is the least obvious is the flax weaving or raranga putiputi design for a Lily which I have instead woven out of canvas and sewn into the painting. The hands in these works depict the concept of giving. In the first painting portraying them as giving the gift of Lily to the world and in the second painting of them giving the gift of her knowledge to her students/community.

Following Lily’s death and in preparation for my paintings, I looked at much of Lily’s art as I wanted to honour her by integrating elements of her work into my own. Her consistent use of pigeons portrayed like people was something that stood out to me and that I Implemented in my own work. The pigeons in my artwork similarly represent people with the bigger one being painted with the colors of a Kererū’s feathers as it represents Lily. In my work there are also the four red stars of the southern cross symbolizing both the Pacific Ocean and New Zealand with their presence on its flag. As well as the use of Pacific patterns symbolizing flowers and her Pacific/New Zealand identity, which Lily portrayed much of in her own art and in 1990 became the first Pacific woman to graduate from Elam art school. The use of dripping paint in both my artworks is to represent the sadness felt in Lily’s passing as these drips symbolize the tears many people shed in response to this loss. I finished the painting off by writing ‘A Treasured Lily’ as that’s what I knew she was to many people and I felt it summarized the artwork’s intent. I am deeply saddened by Lily’s loss, but also extremely grateful to have been taught by her. May you rest in peace Lily Laita.

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