And only sea is the title of a new artwork on the hoarding surrounding Wellington Central Library, designed by Mata Aho Collective in collaboration with Andre Te Hira. The artwork celebrates the civic and literary life of poet J.C. Sturm, also known as Jacquie Baxter. Baxter worked as a librarian at the Central Library for over twenty years. She was one of the first Māori women to complete an undergraduate degree, the first Māori woman to attain an MA in Philosophy, and also one of the first Māori women to appear in print.
The artists chose to render one of her poems On the building site for a new library (published 1996), as the work references the construction of the Central Library and also Wellington city’s land reclamation where Civic Square was once underwater. The artwork acknowledges the civic location and literary connection, tells a story about the history of the land and people – connects to the area’s Māori heritage and geography, and celebrates the importance of libraries to our cities as places of learning, refuge and relaxation.
The new artwork provides vibrancy to the area as the long term future of the building and Te Ngākau — Civic Precinct is worked through. There will be a blessing for the new artwork on Sunday 15 December.
To find out more about Jacquie’s life, library staff have compiled a biography, shown below.