'Historic Howick' corner mural turns heads

02:12, Jul 12 2010
ART
STREET ART: Artist Ron Gribble blends in with his new ‘‘historic’’ mural on a Howick street corner.

A Howick street corner has gone from grubby to gorgeous in the blink of an eye.

On Saturday, artist Ron Gribble screwed his lifesize portraits and framed beachscapes into place at the intersection of Fencible Drive and Cook St.

"It's like a random wall in an art gallery," the Blockhouse Bay resident says.

"The guy with a little girl on his shoulder, he's looking at the paintings but she's completely ignoring them."

Another bloke yakking on a cellphone isn't interested either, unlike the image of the artist's daughter who ponders a piece with her son at her hip.

The paintings are all original copies of early Howick photographs Mr Gribble found in the archives. And in the corner of each picture is the photo's date and location.

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The Howick Village Association secured funding from the Department of Justice in 2009 for the mural as an anit-graffiti and beautification measure and the Howick Community Board paid for the wooden wall. But when Mr Gribble got the go-ahead he had a little trouble turning his "historic Howick" idea into reality.

"I had to sit down and figure out how I could do it and get the detail I demand," he says. "I'm not going to have it shoddy."

He decided to use oil paint on marine ply. But everything had to be done in a studio due to the weeks of drying time.

"I wanted frames around the pictures so they'd look like paintings on the wall but I couldn't use traditional moulding because it would just rot. I've had to use moulding you'd use in old house corners then treat it."

Howick Village Association co-ordinator Jenny Foster says people contacted her on Monday with "extremely positive" comments.

"I think it looks great on the corner," she says.

"That 3D effect is quite different. That's one of our main gateways to the village so it certainly has a presence there and marks it as an entrance."

Stage two of the mural, featuring two clydesdale horses towing a plough, is still in the pipeline.

Eastern Courier