Re:ACTIVATE – Calling Aspiring Artists

SCAPE Public Art is inviting aspiring artists aged 18 and under to submit their ideas for an artwork to be produced for a public space during SCAPE season 2023, 25 November 2023 – 17 February 2024.

Re:ACTIVATE Aspiring Artists is designed to nurture, grow and promote the creative arts by mentoring and giving opportunities to talented young artists. It is an annual competition and exhibition open to youth aged between 5 and 18 in Canterbury. Participating students will respond to a brief and submit designs for the chance to have their artworks produced for public display.


Re:ACTIVATE 2022 artworks installed from left: Oli Aikawa, Wheelbarrow Of A Bag Of Rocks 2022; Liana Martin, The Tree Of Work 2022; Secret Ainsworth-Mason, Focus 2022; and Adele Sherborne, Ccino & Ash 2022


This is an opportunity for young artists to explore the creative process and come up with a design for an artwork that shows their unique perspective on the theme. There are two categories open for entry this year: Re:ACTIVATE Sculpture and Re:ACTIVATE Mural. Re:ACTIVATE Sculpture is a competition for individual students to develop an idea for sculptural artworks, which the winners will get to create under the guidance of SCAPE Public Art’s expert industry partners. Re:ACTIVATE Mural supported by Resene is a competition for groups of between four to eight students, who will work together alongside a local mural artist to create a design for a mural that will be displayed on billboards in Te Matatiki Toi Ora, The Arts Centre.


Next Steps 

Read through the brief and start exploring design concepts based on the theme.

The theme of this year’s SCAPE Public Art Season is The Gift.

When we think of gifts, we often think of things: physical presents, given from one hand to another to signify a special occasion or to honour a relationship.

But do all gifts have to be objects? Can they be gestures such as kind words of encouragement, sharing or doing something nice for a friend? Experiences? Stories? What do you think are the small gifts you might give and receive in your everyday life? Can you give someone the gift of time?

In tikanga Māori, koha is a gift, present, offering, contribution or donation. Koha reflects the mana of both the giver and receiver. It’s all about reciprocity: giving something to later receive something in return, building and supporting relationships.

Through your artwork you could investigate the different values a gift can have. A gift may have financial value or offer a sense of importance. A gift of a hand-drawn picture or family heirloom gets its value from the strength of the relationship between giver and receiver. Perhaps the value of a gift is measured in comparison to what others received. How would you feel if you received more or less than someone else?

Ko maru kai atu, ko matu kai mai, ka ngohengohe.
Give as well as take, and all is well.

In exploring ideas for your artwork, you could reflect on this whakataukī. If you gift something to someone, do you expect something in return? Is gratitude part of the unwritten rules of gift-giving? How might you react if you gave someone a gift and they didn’t thank you for it? Or if you received a gift you didn’t want? What about anonymous donations, in which the giver receives no gratitude or acknowledgement? Might the act of giving alone make you feel good without any expectation to receive something in return?

Your artwork could also consider a memorable gift you have given or received. Was it a material object or an experience? Why was the gift chosen? What story does it tell about the relationship between the giver and receiver?

You might choose to think about whether a public artwork could be considered a gift to a place or community. What could your artwork gift to its audience?



Sarah Ackerley is the Education and Community Engagement Manager at SCAPE Public Art. With a background in Fine Arts and education, she will be sharing her expertise with schools and students. Sarah is available for outreach visits to your school to discuss the themes and work on design concepts with students. To book a session email




Bookings will be open soon for the upcoming SCAPE education programme, 10 October – 1 December 2023. This year’s programme includes art-making activities inspired by some of our legacy works as well as sessions working with our community-engaged artist, Priscilla Rose Howe. Keep an eye on your inbox for more information! This popular education programme is a unique opportunity for students to learn more about the SCAPE season artworks and take part in creative educational workshops.

Entries for Re:ACTIVATE Aspiring Artists open on 18 July and close on 30 August. Click here to learn how to submit your design.