Mudge mural restored

Digital reproduction means public can now view work up close and personal.

Digital reproduction means public can now view work up close and personal.

Digital Mudge Mural
Leonardo's Annuniciation

DEMOLITION of the Graeme Mudge mural that filled a wall in the Gisborne District Council courtyard was a loss to the city, but the digital reproduction means the public can now view the work up close and personal.

Mudge was commissioned by the council to produce the mural in 2000.

Central to the work is a 19th century, St Albans street or town square scene where Gisborne town crier John Dwight rings a bell to announce the news. A short distance behind him is his wife in her town crier escort costume.

Lined with the same slabs as the council courtyard the paved street in the mural creates an illusion of depth and made the courtyard look bigger.

Bystanders in the painting include patrons who watch the town crier from the Criers Corner pub doorway. The pub sign’s coat of arms is made up of a bishop’s blue mitre and a ship that is more than likely a representation of the Endeavour. The ship is flanked by two red bull heads. The heraldry bears no resemblance to the south England town’s coat of arms but the bull heads could reference St Albans’ High Street market. Until the 1970s St Albans hosted a cattle auction at the market.

One blogger says the ancient market now sits alongside the Tesco supermarket. Similarly, in Mudge’s mural the olde English village square nudges up against a contemporary Gisborne city setting in the background: Gisborne’s art deco clock tower and one of the 1969 Endeavour models atop a mast.

A scally leans against a wall in the sun while the golden-haired girl who passes by twiddles her hair as she looks up at a Maori gent in bare feet, knee breeches, tail coat and facial moko standing in front of the pub doorway. The gent holds a cane in his right hand and stands erect with his top-knotted head slightly tilted back.

Two enigmatic characters appear in the painting.

One is the figure who stands next to the Maori squire. Garbed in a hooded mantle the same off-white colour as his beard, the man could be a beggar or he could be Father Time.

In a stroke of Mudgie genius, the artist has created a kind of reverse trompe l’oeil. In the original work, the ancient’s left hand rested on a three-dimensional walking stick: the overflow pipe that came out of the council building wall and ended in a gully trap beneath the mural.

The walking stick still features in the reproduction but it has been painted in.

The yellow theatre poster on the right hand side of the work was originally painted on a tin box attached to the council building but has also been painted into the reproduction.

Another detail that straddles the real and the illusory in the original work are the windows. Bon vivants can be seen enjoying a tankard or two behind the pub window to the right. The curtain echoes the real life curtain in the real life window in the centre of the work.

John Dwight has since passed away, as did his predecessor John Kibble while he was in Whitby for the 1999 world town crier championships.

The second enigmatic feature in the work is in the way Kibble is presented. He is portrayed at the right of the painting as a hurdy-gurdy player. At his feet is Kipper, a Jack Russell terrier. Kibble had already left the world by the time Mudge painted the mural. Mudge often made historical art references in his murals and here a device used by artists from Giotto to Leonardo da Vinci in depictions of the Annunciation comes into play.

In the Annunciation story, the angel Gabriel descends to the earthly world to announce to the Virgin Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus.

Renaissance artists often represented the meeting of the messenger from the divine realm in a worldly setting by creating a sense of separation between the two.

In Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation (c. 1472–1475), Gabriel appears to the left of the work. Behind him is a row of dark trees. But separating him from Mary on the picture plane is a gap that opens on to a distant vista of hazy mountains. (See page 24)

In Fra Angelico’s c.1450, and Antonello da Messina’s 1474 Annunciation, the artists simply popped a big pillar in between the two figures.

A drainpipe and some brickwork in Mudge’s 20th century masterpiece does the job in the mural. The late John Kibble is a key figure in the work but he is slightly separated from the main action, and a slightly smaller form. He looks over his shoulder as he seems to move out of the scene.

It is a subtle, poignant, masterful, touch.

Both Gisborne town criers hailed from St Albans in England and both men were involved in theatre. They were also involved with the refurbishment of the mounted Endeavour models that have all but gone the way of Mudge’s original mural.

DEMOLITION of the Graeme Mudge mural that filled a wall in the Gisborne District Council courtyard was a loss to the city, but the digital reproduction means the public can now view the work up close and personal.

Mudge was commissioned by the council to produce the mural in 2000.

Central to the work is a 19th century, St Albans street or town square scene where Gisborne town crier John Dwight rings a bell to announce the news. A short distance behind him is his wife in her town crier escort costume.

Lined with the same slabs as the council courtyard the paved street in the mural creates an illusion of depth and made the courtyard look bigger.

Bystanders in the painting include patrons who watch the town crier from the Criers Corner pub doorway. The pub sign’s coat of arms is made up of a bishop’s blue mitre and a ship that is more than likely a representation of the Endeavour. The ship is flanked by two red bull heads. The heraldry bears no resemblance to the south England town’s coat of arms but the bull heads could reference St Albans’ High Street market. Until the 1970s St Albans hosted a cattle auction at the market.

One blogger says the ancient market now sits alongside the Tesco supermarket. Similarly, in Mudge’s mural the olde English village square nudges up against a contemporary Gisborne city setting in the background: Gisborne’s art deco clock tower and one of the 1969 Endeavour models atop a mast.

A scally leans against a wall in the sun while the golden-haired girl who passes by twiddles her hair as she looks up at a Maori gent in bare feet, knee breeches, tail coat and facial moko standing in front of the pub doorway. The gent holds a cane in his right hand and stands erect with his top-knotted head slightly tilted back.

Two enigmatic characters appear in the painting.

One is the figure who stands next to the Maori squire. Garbed in a hooded mantle the same off-white colour as his beard, the man could be a beggar or he could be Father Time.

In a stroke of Mudgie genius, the artist has created a kind of reverse trompe l’oeil. In the original work, the ancient’s left hand rested on a three-dimensional walking stick: the overflow pipe that came out of the council building wall and ended in a gully trap beneath the mural.

The walking stick still features in the reproduction but it has been painted in.

The yellow theatre poster on the right hand side of the work was originally painted on a tin box attached to the council building but has also been painted into the reproduction.

Another detail that straddles the real and the illusory in the original work are the windows. Bon vivants can be seen enjoying a tankard or two behind the pub window to the right. The curtain echoes the real life curtain in the real life window in the centre of the work.

John Dwight has since passed away, as did his predecessor John Kibble while he was in Whitby for the 1999 world town crier championships.

The second enigmatic feature in the work is in the way Kibble is presented. He is portrayed at the right of the painting as a hurdy-gurdy player. At his feet is Kipper, a Jack Russell terrier. Kibble had already left the world by the time Mudge painted the mural. Mudge often made historical art references in his murals and here a device used by artists from Giotto to Leonardo da Vinci in depictions of the Annunciation comes into play.

In the Annunciation story, the angel Gabriel descends to the earthly world to announce to the Virgin Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus.

Renaissance artists often represented the meeting of the messenger from the divine realm in a worldly setting by creating a sense of separation between the two.

In Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation (c. 1472–1475), Gabriel appears to the left of the work. Behind him is a row of dark trees. But separating him from Mary on the picture plane is a gap that opens on to a distant vista of hazy mountains. (See page 24)

In Fra Angelico’s c.1450, and Antonello da Messina’s 1474 Annunciation, the artists simply popped a big pillar in between the two figures.

A drainpipe and some brickwork in Mudge’s 20th century masterpiece does the job in the mural. The late John Kibble is a key figure in the work but he is slightly separated from the main action, and a slightly smaller form. He looks over his shoulder as he seems to move out of the scene.

It is a subtle, poignant, masterful, touch.

Both Gisborne town criers hailed from St Albans in England and both men were involved in theatre. They were also involved with the refurbishment of the mounted Endeavour models that have all but gone the way of Mudge’s original mural.

Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci employed in his work Annunciation (above) a device common among painters of the time that separates the divine from the worldly.

Here the angel Gabriel kneels before the Virgin Mary. Separating them is a gap that opens to a distant view of mountains. In Graeme Mudge’s town crier mural, a drainpipe does the job. Town crier, the late John Kibble looks over his shoulder as he appears to be move out of the scene.

Mudge’s 2000 mural was demolished along with the wall it was painted on when the Gisborne District Council buildings were pulled down last year.

The mural has since been reproduced and mounted outside the Lawson Field Theatre.

Reproduction and installation of the mural was a collaborative effort. Gisborne Herald photographer Liam Clayton shot the work in panels. Rea Carleton seamlessly stitched them together and restored features such as the theatre poster on the wall to the right of the street scene. Weatherell Transport Ltd shipped the final print to Gisborne from Auckland. The completed image was fixed on to 6m x 4m aluminium composite panels that are fixed to a ply backing and hot-dipped galvanised metal frame.

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