Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Eager to empower and inspire all artists

Marc Spijkerbosch has come full circle.

The Rotorua artist had to convince the Rotorua District Council to allow him to paint the now iconic mural on the Tarawera Rd water tank after they initially turned him down.

Now, he has put down the paint brush, albeit temporarily, and taken up a role as the council's new community arts officer.

"I've learnt a lot in the last 20 years and done a lot of murals since that water tank."

He admits after spending most of his working life travelling around painting and setting his own agenda the adjustment to an office job has been a big one but he feels the time is right.

Not that he was looking for a job. It was his daughter who spotted the role advertised and suggested he take a look.

"I read the job description and thought I ticked all the boxes and it was time for a new challenge."

Mr Spijkerbosch hopes the past 20 years forging a career as an artist will be the perfect background to the new job.

His art has seen him work with people from all walks of life - from having gang members attend openings of murals to being flown by helicopter to design murals for people's wine cellars.

He is particularly proud of his work in communities, such as Kawerau and Tokoroa, where he has seen the amazing talent in the communities and the difference that public art can make.

One of those "teary-eyed moments" was seeing the reaction to his mural at the main playground in Kawerau.

"When I was finishing up I could hear kids behind me screaming 'yea, look at our playground'."

Mr Spijkerbosch said that while his career travelling around the place painting sounded romantic, and it was, there were also tough times and it could be quite isolating.

He said the new job had been a "massive lifestyle change" but almost a month in he was enjoying meeting plenty of new people and spending more time at home with his family.

"I feel like I've got good energy for it and am doing it for the right reasons."

Mr Spijkerbosch said he knew how hard it was for artists having been on the other side, so wanted to help support them. "That's the exciting part - empowering and inspiring other artists."

He said that over the past 20 years there had been "a lot of heartache" and he hoped his new position would allow him to help save some other artists that heartache.

"It's pretty tough going out there in the art world. I guess I've had some lucky breaks but I've also had to work hard."

Mr Spijkerbosch was quick to point out he was not just in there to promote murals but to support all kinds of arts - from theatre to music and visual art.

He was entering the job with an open mind. "At the moment I'm a blank canvas with a whole lot of skills sitting in the wings."

In the meantime, Mr Spijkerbosch was enjoying the break from having a paintbrush in his hand.

"It will be nice to call it a hobby again. It was a hobby that got out of control."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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