Historical and contemporary settings in Tairāwhiti’s industry, arts and recreation are the main themes in the late Graeme Mudge’s 20+ murals.
The Time of Sails mural, for instance, is panoramic narrative in a 19th century harbourside setting. The artist arrives in a boat to observe people loading and unloading boats, paddling waka and driving horse-drawn dreys.
The War Memorial Theatre mural, on the other hand, is an energetic montage of dancers, and performers from Gisborne Operatic Society productions staged through the 1990s.
The Mudge Murals is a tour through the worlds inside the artist's more than 20 public and private murals.
The Mudge Murals brims with pictures and stories, says author Mark Peters.
“It includes some of Mudge’s photographs of his murals, contributions by several Gisborne photographers, close-up views of details in the murals, and a selection of the artist’s rarely-seen preparatory drawings.”
One of the most satisfying elements of this project was the contribution of pictures and stories from people in the community, says Peters.
Most pictures in the Crawford Road/Rakaitane Road walkway mural chapter were contributed by Gisborne Camera Club photographers.
Painted in green with white highlights, the forestry-themed mural has been scoured by the elements into a raw, charcoal-like work.
“Some of Graeme’s pictures are included and these show the mural in its original colour,” says Peters.
“Other pictures were taken at other times over the past 11 years so there is some tonal variation between the images. Designer Troy Conole has managed to balance the tones while maintaining each picture’s integrity.”
On completion of each mural, Mudge used an old-school film camera to photograph his work. The colours in these pictures are fresh and full, and several of the artist’s photographs are included in the book. Most of them, however, are composite pictures Mudge snipped and neatly stitched together.
“A few minor elements, like floorboards or a window frame, might be slightly out of alignment but this doesn’t detract from the integrity of the mural,” says Peters.
“Graeme’s pictures are carefully craftworked, and there is magic in the film’s old-fashioned light, so we decided not to Photoshop them into place but to leave them mostly untouched.”
Shot by professional photographer Tink Lockett, the cover picture, with its detail of Mudge seated in the stern of a boat from the Time of Murals mural, is one of Peters’ favourite features in the book.
Peters says wanted to keep the coarseness, the near 3D impasto glob, the raw brushwork and pimply texture in the cover picture.
“Tink captured that perfectly and Troy balanced the design beautifully with the stacked title,” he says.
“I’ve stuck a copy of the front cover to the wall above my computer but I might have to take it down.
“I can’t stop looking at it.”
The Mudge Murals is a not-for-profit project supported by Creative Communities NZ and Gisborne District Council and Friends of the Museum.
The Mudge Murals Books are available from:
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