4 Nov 2018

The return of John Walsh's massive mural

From Standing Room Only, 12:48 pm on 4 November 2018

Almost 40 years ago, artist John Walsh painted 60 portraits for an 18 metre-long mural featuring the portraits of Uawa Tolaga Bay people. But they rejected it, and the massive work's been in storage - until now. This week a large contingent will journey from John's marae in Tolaga Bay to the capital to honour A Portrait of Uawa Tolaga Bay as it goes on public display for the first time. The massive mural is painted on ten panels and took 18 months to complete. It depicts a cross-section of the community alongside supernatural and spiritual figures. In 1993 John Walsh became the inaugural curator of contemporary Maori art, then a general art curator at Te Papa Tongawera before becoming a full-time artist a decade later. Concert FM's Charlotte Wilson spoke to him recently. You can listen to that here. Lynn Freeman visited John at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery to hear the story of his contentious mural.