An Auckland graffiti artist who painted a poignant mural of a victim of the mosque attacks has been invited to paint another tribute on a large wall in Christchurch.
Paul X Walsh’s painting in Avondale was accompanied by the words, “Remember the Heroes” and the date the attacks happened.
The image struck a chord with social media users and Walsh has been offered flights and accommodation in Christchurch so he can do a similar piece in the city.
He painted the image of Naeem Rashid shortly after the attacks because he felt he needed to do something.
Naeem Rashid reportedly tried to wrest a gun from the alleged attacker, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan said his bravery would be recognised with a national award.
“For me this was more of a visceral response, like I had to do something to express my personal feelings about what happened,” Walsh said.
“And that’s why I had to go for it straight away.
“The messages of support that have been posted on social media have been overwhelming.
“The amount of attention it got online and the amount of messages I got were really humbling.
“I feel like artists have a sense to try and reflect how the community feels at times … and that really feels like the case here,” he said.
In an interview with RNZ, Mr Walsh mentioned that he would like to do a similar tribute in Christchurch.
Christchurch resident Victoria Pomeroy heard the interview and immediately thought of a wall that might suit.
She owns Pomeroy’s pub and Little Pom’s cafe on the corner of Kilmore Street and Fitzgerald Avenue.
“I rang my daughter, Ava, and said to her that Paul was looking for a space.
“Perhaps this big red building with such a high profile on the corner here could perhaps be just right to offer to the community, to Christchurch, to all,” she said
The wall had been standing since the late 1800s and had about 40,000 cars pass by it each day.
As to what the tribute would be, Mrs Pomeroy would be happy to be led by Walsh and Naeem Rashid’s family.
But as the Pomeroy family own the building, it would be a permanent memorial unlike the image in Avondale which would eventually get painted over.
One idea that Paul X Walsh had been thinking about is a tribute to the wider community.
“The one I’d love to do in Christchurch is not so much portrait work, but 50 flowers for example is one idea I’ve been floating.
“Sort of international flowers from around the world in a similar style, in a similar space, would be great,” he said.
Naeem Rashid’s widow said Walsh’s work would be welcome in Christchurch.
“I would like it because it will encourage the feeling of mutual co-existence. Love between all the humans … people should love each other,” she said.
Ambreen Rashid also lost her eldest son in Talha in the attacks.
She liked the idea of flowers but wanted the artist to be led by his own creativity.
“Artists usually make things out of their own love, so I would always encourage what they like.”
“I’m not someone to tell him to him that you do this or that, whatever he will make he will make out of his own love,” she said.
– Additional reporting by Anneke Smith and Alex Perrottet