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game of life

From habitat magazine - issue 36, colourful person

A Hawke’s Bay artist who is a big kid at heart is as colourful as her creations.

JiL Sergent never liked having her hair brushed. A toddler with itchy feet and busy hands, JiL would only succumb to her mum’s attempts if given an envelope and colouring pen to draw. These days her hair is in dreadlocks and it’s more likely to be a paintbrush and a can of Resene paint in hand for JiL who’s made a career as an artist bringing colour to schools and public areas.

JiL of Aotearoa - vibrant mural

JiL's vibrant mural Tūrangawaewae at the Havelock North Village Green skate bowl is painted in vibrant colours including Resene Endeavour, Resene Paua, Resene Tree Frog and Resene Crusoe.

JiL (aka JiL of Aotearoa) is known within Hawke’s Bay for her bright murals, colourful children’s games and schoolyard paintings. She found her niche after using her talent to brighten her neighbourhood back in 1989. “I wanted to create something for the kids in Kelvin Grove, so I painted a cool hopscotch game. The neighbours loved it. That led to invitations to paint at the local school, and eventually, became something people paid me to do.”

JiL found herself in demand to paint quirky target walls and creature-filled games such as hopscotch, four square and snakes and ladders often with an environmental message. “I loved sharing my message of conservation and protecting nature through these fun, colourful creations. I was allowed a lot of creative freedom, but there were some restrictions – like no paintings of sharks near the swimming pool!”

Colourful playground game

Colourful playground game 2

The playground game Four Square at Frimley Primary School in Hastings has never looked more joyful with JiL's pops of Resene Bright Red, Resene Tangerine and Resene Endeavour. The ground wheel at Parkvale Primary School in Hastings, painted in bright colours including Resene Turbo, Resene Bright Red and Resene Windsor, makes learning the numbers and alphabet fun.

From ground games to magnificent murals, JiL’s repertoire grew to include large walls in the town centre, larger-than-life Alice in Wonderland themed mini-golf sculptures and council commissions. One thing that remained constant through her works is her go-to Resene paints. “My works are famous for lasting, and that’s because of the Resene paint. The Hawke’s Bay sun is harsh, but the paint is house paint so it’s hard-wearing. Resene just lasts, and everyone knows it.” Her ground creations are made using Resene Super Gloss, a high-gloss enamel paint, and are painted with bristle brushes directly onto the concrete (well-scuffed, aged concrete – not new).

For wall murals, she prefers Resene Lumbersider. “It’s the best paint! It sticks to anything and is easy to paint with. It blends beautifully,” says JiL. She never looks past her selection of cheerful original Resene colours. “Kids love bright colours, so Resene Turbo, Resene Paua, Resene Tree Frog, Resene Wet N Wild and Resene Windsor are just a few of my go-to’s. My paintings are finished with my signature Resene Nero outline. My art teacher warned me about always using a black outline in my works, but life is like a cartoon! I need bright colours, humour and cheek.” JiL has won a number of awards in the Resene Mural Masterpieces competition for her work.

Recent lockdowns and school closures have led JiL away from playground palettes and given her a chance to focus on artwork commissions and decorating her own home. Her current project? Painting her seed shed. JiL is walking her conservation talk by transforming a cow paddock into a 20-acre bird and bee-friendly garden. “My favourite quote to use in my work is ‘The environment is paramount and we are the ancestors’. I do like to upcycle and reuse my Resene paints and pots where possible. Resene testpots make fun counters for ground games like snakes and ladders."

Top tip  Resene Uracryl GraffitiShield is a durable two-pack clear protective coating ideal for protecting exterior walls and painted artwork and murals from graffiti. The waterborne formula is also low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Contact JiL at

Words: Cheree Morrison
Images: Hastings City Council, JiL Sergent


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