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Immortalising New Zealand: Brigita Botma’s murals with a message

20 May 2021

Artist Brigita Botma is on a mission to beautify New Zealand, one wall at a time. With over 30 murals under her belt, Brigita’s intricate and moving works are created using an inventive blend of Resene paints.

Brigita, who has been drawing for as long as she can remember, was originally home schooled along with her nine siblings in rural Northland. “I grew up in a fairly isolated part of New Zealand,” says Brigita. “Without television and internet, we had a lot of time to do the things we enjoyed. For me, that was art.”

The quintessentially Kiwi landscapes Brigita creates also serve as reminders for why we need to protect the environment. She primarily uses Resene Bilbao, Resene Turbo, Resene Red Hot, Resene Tory Blue and her favourite colour, Resene Yowza for these detailed mural creations.

Brigita started her creative business, Manabell Design, when she was just thirteen. “The business underwent a big revamp as my design skills improved,” says Brigita. “I settled on the name Mana; my middle name that has universal meaning across Polynesian culture, and Bell; my maiden name.

“I’ve begun making a living out of it in the last three years since becoming self-employed.”

Colourful and fun, Brigita’s work takes inspiration from the environment. “There is a focus on respect in the messages I try to convey through my art,” says Brigita. “Whether that be respecting the environment, native fauna and flora, or local history.

“Part of the meaning of Mana can be respect so ironically it makes sense.” 

Heritage and local histories are important subject matter to Brigita. She combines heritage buildings with landscapes and native birds to create beautiful compositions. She uses bright colours such as Resene Bilbao, Resene Turbo, Resene Red Hot, and Resene Irish Coffee.

To achieve a high quality of work, Brigita uses Resene paint for her murals. “I chose to use Resene on my first mural in 2014 as it was a highly recommended exterior house paint and I wanted something that was going to preserve my art in the long run,” says Brigita. I choose to use it today because it is still my preferred paint for pigment and use.

“My colour inspiration comes from what I visualise inside my head. I generally use very bright Resene colours, such as Resene Turbo or Resene Bilbao, and mix them myself to achieve different tones depending on what I'm painting.”

Brigita’s murals use approximately twelve litres of Resene Lumbersider paint, depending on the size. Her favourite tools include her builder’s ruler and level, which she uses to get the proportions correct in her larger paintings.

Brigita’s murals begin with a small-scale plan of the artwork. She creates a draft based on what her customers want and uses colours such as Resene Bilbao, Resene Turbo, Resene Yowza, Resene Red Hot, Resene Tory Blue and Resene Irish Coffee to make the artwork come to life.

One of Brigita’s favourite pieces of work is the wrap-around mural on the Karioitahi Beach toilet block. The enormous mural took over a month to complete and included painting the block, canopy poles and a portion of the interior with confronting images addressing the consequences of not respecting the ocean.

“The biggest challenge I faced with this mural was the unpredictable weather on our brutal West Coast and watching a wall wash away before my eyes as heavy rain set-in out of nowhere.”

The Karioitahi Beach toilet block is Brigita’s favourite project to date and took over a month to complete. She used her staple Resene colours including Resene Bilbao, Resene Turbo, Resene Yowza, Resene Red Hot, Resene Tory Blue and Resene Irish Coffee. The mural also features confronting messages about the necessity of protecting our oceans.

Community support for her colourful creations has been a big part of her development. “The hugely positive and encouraging feedback I get for my work is a huge factor in what drives me to create,” says Brigita. “I'm lucky to live in a community that has been endlessly supportive towards me and that certainly helps.

“I want to feel like I'm making a difference with the messages and beautification my work entail.”

The whale scene on the right wall of the Karioitahi Beach toilet block is Brigita’s favourite part of the mural and features one of her go-to colours; Resene Tory Blue.

To view more of Brigita’s work visit her website here or follow her on Facebook or Instagram 

Brigita’s mural outside the Pukeoware School in Waiuku, depicting the rural New Zealand landscape. Her bright colours of choice are Resene Bilbao, Resene Turbo, Resene Yowza, Resene Red Hot, Resene Tory Blue and Resene Irish Coffee.

Published: 20 May 2021