The eye and the turtle: students create posters with a personal connection for Te Papa

The eye and the turtle: students create posters with a personal connection for Te Papa

We’ve just pasted some eye-catching new posters around town, made by students from Taita College. Communications Advisor Sasha Borissenko and Senior Digital Editor Daniel Crichton-Rouse hear their stories.

Next time you’re out and about in Wellington, there’s a chance you might spy a giant eye and a turtle. Take a closer look – they’re rich with detail.

Two bold street posters have been designed for us by students from Taita College, and are up for the next month. This work is the outcome of a work experience programme with global advertising agency VMLY&R and the school.

Five students stand holding two large posters
Taita College students Ema Pasikala, Vika Tupou, Jaspreet Singh, Hunter Robinson, and Junior Misa with their posters, 2021. Photo by Daniel Crichton-Rouse. Te Papa

Earlier this year Taita students spent time with members of our Māori, Pacific, iwi relations, marketing, and digital teams, to explore the taonga in the collections, learn about museology at Te Papa, and brainstorm.

They then joined the team at VMLY&R to get hands-on experience in advertising, running through strategy and creative, and to develop their ideas.

Finally, they pitched the posters that you can now see pasted on walls around town.

Four photos showing the students standing in front of the designs they were working on, which are hanging on the wall
The students with their working files, 2021. Te Papa

We asked the designers (aka the students) for a little behind-the-scenes info into their creative process.

Vika Tupou’s turtle is a homage to natural taonga and her culture.

“The turtle is symbolic in Polynesia and it was culturally relatable to me. The patterns used around the turtle have cultural significance to me too,” she says.

“[Like the turtle bobbing its head above the water], you only see a bit of it, like a tip of the iceberg, and that’s connected to Te Papa’s Collections online where only 1% of the collections are on display in real life.”

Ema Pasikala, who drew the eye, was inspired by our logo for her design.

“I was thinking how I could incorporate the Te Papa fingerprint, and after researching it for ages I realised that I wanted to use it in the perspective of how I saw it – through my eyes,” she says.

“I first drew the eye and then Hunter did the graffiti writing. When I first saw [the final result] I thought it was really cool.”

Hunter Robinson drew on his own interests to create something he, and his friends, would connect with.

“People who are the same age as me like this stuff,” he says. ”I graffiti in my spare time and it’s what I’m drawn to. Friends and family would do it and they’d take me and I’d watch them and I thought I wanted to do that.

“It’s been pretty cool to see [the final product]. I really want to see them around town.”

The students involved have ambitions of pursuing careers in fields such as creative design, law, and engineering – and we plan to make this work experience programme with VMLY&R an ongoing one.

Head over to Collections Online to start exploring the national collection.

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