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Preserving the Mudge murals

OPTIONS on how Gisborne District Council (GDC) can preserve murals painted by the late Gisborne artist Graeme Mudge will be presented to council over the next few months.

Gisborne is home to 14 hand-painted murals around the city on canvasses of old buildings, bus shelters and concrete walls.

But it has been 25 years since they were commissioned by the Keep Gisborne Beautiful Committee (KGB) and many are starting to fade and succumb to wear, tear and graffiti.

Internationally renowned art conservator, the Wellington-based Carolina Izzo, was paid a few thousand dollars for her ideas about how to preserve them. These will be presented to GDC over the next few months.

GDC community and recreation manager Andrew White said the conservation plan cost $3622.50.

“The conservation plan will be used to inform council of the options. The plan provides an assessment of the condition of, and remedial work required on, each of the Mudge murals.”

Mr Mudge’s wife Lisette said naturally she would be very happy to see the artwork on the murals preserved for the next generation.

Former deputy mayor Margaret Thorpe says the murals are part of the city’s streetscape art in our community and provide vitality and unique charm to the district hub.

“This iconic public art is part of what helps distinguish us between just another stop for cruise ship passengers, to an informative and interesting visit.

“To bring in tourist dollars, in an increasingly competitive market, we need as many points of difference as we can. Our high quality murals provide a talking point for visitors that no other cruise ship stop can provide.

“A popular choice for tourists are museums and art galleries, so our street murals provide another perspective for them on a walking tour of the city streets.”

Most of the mural were created in 1990s. Mrs Thorpe said she had used the Annual Plan submission process for the last five years to acquire funding for their care and maintenance but had been ignored, and now some murals have faded so badly they will be hard to restore.

“My concern is the deteriorating state and even sudden removal and destruction of these murals.”

Mrs Thorpe said if the old jail house building on Churchill Park were to be demolished, the murals could be unscrewed and relocated as had happened with the Watties and Time of Sails murals.

She was heavily involved in commissioning the first Mudge mural through the KGB. Consent was gained from the building owners, paints were provided and Mr Mudge was paid for his work.

“My wish is for funding to be allocated to the ongoing care and restorations to keep our unique history as vibrant and fresh as the day Graeme Mudge painted them.”

LOOKING AT PRESERVING THE MURALS: Former deputy mayor Margaret Thorpe wants Gisborne District Council to protect murals painted by Gisborne artist Graeme Mudge. There are about 14 of them dotted around town and she believes they should continue to be part of the city’s landscape. Picture by Liam Clayton
Click on the picture to explore our interactive map of Gisborne's unique Mudge murals.