Iconic Uawa mural leaves an indelible impression
POSTED: 10 February 2019
You can tell those works of art that will become iconic, and there’s no doubt that A Portrait of Ūawa Tolaga Bay by artist John Walsh will be viewed in that way.
The 20-metre long mural features over 60 portraits of local whanau and identities and took John, who has Te Aitanga a Hauiti connections and was born and raised in Tolaga Bay, over 18 months to complete. He was only 27 years old when it was first shown.
This painting was the centrepiece of an exhibition of his early work at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery on the Wellington Waterfront, which ran until mid-February. John was in the gallery restoring this work during the opening weeks of the show, and there is a link to an interview with him below.
While the mural, with its scale and obvious wairua, leaves the most indelible impression, there are other works that demonstrate his gifts as an aspiring young artist. One in particular is the beautiful portrait of nanny Whiu Maitai.
John has gone on to win acclaim as one of New Zealand’s most eminent artists, and his work is now regularly shown at leading galleries and appears in some prominent collections.
He is a friend of Tuia Innovation principal Nick Gerritsen, and we hope to convince him to showcase some of his works in our offices in Wellington and join us in some interesting new initiatives.