The crumbling tennis court wall near the entrance of Trafalgar Middle School will soon be adorned with ten gorgeously painted panels courtesy of Kimberley painter Anton Zanesco — a service he’s providing for the Nelson community free of charge.
“I wanted to get out of the studio and I wanted a big wall,” Zanesco told the Star, midway through completing the project. “I said to myself ‘this school needs some life’.”
That’s when he contacted principal Carol-Ann Leidloff, who enthusiastically took him up on his offer. They discussed a variety of options before settling on removable panels.
“In case there’s a repair that needs to be done on the wall, these can be taken off, taken down, and then you have inventory. You can install it anywhere else, in portions if need be.”
The centrepiece of the project is a familiar image of the big orange bridge, but from there Zanesco takes the viewer out into the wilderness and down into the depths of the ocean. His paintings include plentiful wildlife, with wolves, bears, dolphins and whales all making an appearance.
“I’ve done is so there are some abstract elements in there too. I don’t want it to look like a photograph, but I don’t want it to look like a bad painting either. It needs to have some funky aspect. I want you to see the brush strokes.”
That means one painting features a moose free-floating over an orange blob amid a forest landscape.
When asked why he chose to tackle such an ambitious project pro bono, Zanesco said “for me it’s about the satisfaction of service.”
“The other day a young guy came up to me and said ‘hey dude, you’re good with the paint’. It was hilarious. And another guy walked up and said ‘hey man, you’re not an artist—you’re a soldier, man.”
Originally from Austria, Zanesco said he was inspired by the large-scale public art projects undertaken in Eastern Europe and Asia after the Iron Curtain fell.
“The Communist cities were grey to grey to grey. Nothing but grey. It was known that people walked with their heads down they were so depressed,” he said.
That’s not the case anymore.
“I come from Austria where everything is green and it’s totally different. People walk differently when they expect to see a city full of painting. The mental noise stops and you’re just taking it in.”