02 February, 2018

Westpac’s new public artwork brings rainbow of colour to Britomart

Westpac NZ is bringing new life to a lane in Auckland’s Britomart precinct with a public art installation linking two buildings.

Artist Shannon Novak, who works at Westpac, used transparent vinyl to transform three glass air bridges above Galway Street into a kaleidoscope of colour.

Mr Novak says the installation celebrates diversity and has been unveiled to coincide with the Auckland Pride Festival, which begins today.

“The artwork is called Symphony. The name refers to a piece of music for an orchestra or a harmony of sounds. Each bridge is like a different sound, the three together creating harmony.

“This links to the idea of diversity and how despite coming from different walks of life - like different sounds, we can harmoniously stand as one and support each other.”

The materials used to create Symphony are designed to last for several years.

The air bridges connect two Westpac office blocks and the lowest of the trio, on the first floor, is also accessible by the public.

The installation’s been welcomed by the General Manager for Consumer Bank and Wealth, Simon Power, who supports an employee action group (known as GLOBAL) which advocates for the LGBTI+ community both inside and outside Westpac.

“I think it’s fantastic. It’s a bright, colourful, abstract way of reflecting the values we place on inclusiveness in the workplace. And, it certainly makes the walk from one building to the next more interesting.”

Mr Power says large organisations have a role to play in making people in the LGBTI+ community feel welcome.

“Organisations have a responsibility to make sure their workplaces are a safe and inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of their gender or sexual identity.

“A survey by Westpac in 2015 showed 37% of the LGBTI+ community in New Zealand had hidden their sexual orientation at work. We want everyone to feel comfortable being themselves.”

Mr Novak says the varying angles and heights of the bridges mean Symphony can look quite different depending on where it is viewed from.

“Additionally, the stained-glass effect changes as the day progresses and it looks different again at night when it is lit up.”

Westpac has held the Rainbow Tick since 2014, recognising that the bank is a diverse and inclusive place to work.

Hundreds of Westpac leaders, employees and family members are expected to march in Pride parades in Auckland and Wellington in the next two months.