Mystery Catholic artist of mosque tribute revealed

The mystery artist who created an artwork honouring the 51 people killed in the 15 March 2019 mosque attack has finally revealed his name.

Two years after he left the artwork outside a mosque, Silivelio Fasi has admitted to being the artist.

Until then, the only identifying mark on the artwork was ‘S Fasi’ scrawled in one corner.

Fasi is an old boy and parent of Catholic Cathedral College who, for a long while has tutored the College’s Pasifika group.

“I just wanted to put it with the flowers and let it be,’’ the former mystery artist says.

“… The intention wasn’t for anyone to know who did it. I wanted to leave it there to share my feelings and thoughts.”

It is his way of honouring those who died, he says.

He used a couple of doors he found dumped on the side of the road to create his artwork. He picked them up and worked on them in his garage for a couple of hours.

The painting he created features a woman wearing the New Zealand flag as a hijab. The names of the dead are written around the edge of the painting as a tribute.

Fasi says painting the work helped him express his raw feelings about the attacks.

“We can still exercise our religion and be Kiwi and live here.”

“I just started sketching away and really wanted to get the right emotion.

“The whole image of the female wearing the flag was iconic for me.

The painting has become an emblem of the Kiwi response to the attack.

Fasi says using the doors as a canvas gives the artwork extra meaning.

“It was about opening the door to love and closing the door on hate.”

He is shocked at the journey the painting has been on since he left it outside the mosque.

The painting was later featured in an exhibition of tributes at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

“There was a photo of [Prime Minister] Jacinda Ardern at the exhibition and my painting was right behind her. People were still trying to find out who I was by then.

“I thought that was pretty cool.”

On the first anniversary of the attack, the painting was featured on the front page of The Press newspaper.

“I got The Press in the morning and told my wife. Even then they couldn’t find me.”

He was eventually tracked down by the Canterbury Museum during its research in preparation for making the artwork part of its collection.

It is on display in an exhibition called Mosque.

“They own it for good, and they will keep it safe and make sure it doesn’t get damaged,” says Fasi.

“I was at the exhibition and a mother was there with her daughter and she was pointing to one of the names and was saying that is her dad. That was when it really sunk in.

“When you create something you don’t realise how big the impact will be.”

Besides his role as a youth worker and creating art, Fasi is known for tutoring a 75 student Pasifika group for their performance at the annual Canterbury Polyfest.


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