Railway inspires new Johnsonville mural

10 December 2014

A 100-metre long train mural has been installed on the façade of Johnsonville Countdown on Moorefield Road.

Sheyne Tuffery's railway mural depicting a soldier from WWII.

A section of Sheyne Tuffery's 100-metre long mural

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This large-scale mural project was a joint initiative between Wellington City Council and Johnsonville’s community. Well known Wellington artist, Sheyne Tuffery, led the painting of the mural in collaboration with 11 school groups and youth organisation, Challenge 2000.

Representatives from Johnsonville’s community, including from Lions and Rotary clubs, Johnsonville Shopping Centre, Countdown Johnsonville, Challenge 2000 and the Johnsonville Community Centre came together to form a mural steering group. They liaised with the Council’s Community Services and Arts teams and Northern Ward Councillor Justin Lester shaped up a plan to develop this large-scale mural.

“It’s a bare, white wall, almost 100-metres long and is often the target of graffiti,” says Katie Taylor-Duke, Arts Programme Advisor with the Council. “The wall is a giant blank canvas – a great site for a mural that will minimise graffiti and activate the space. Murals are a great way to bring communities together through sharing ideas about what could be represented and how.”

The aim of the project was to develop a striking mural in partnership with the community that tells the story of the development of Johnsonville as a suburb.

Experienced artist Sheyne Tuffery was selected to lead the design and painting of the mural with the community. Tuffery has a strong connection to the northern suburbs, having grown up in Newlands. He has worked on many large-scale murals and his work is represented by galleries and held in collections across the country. Most recently he completed the Hopper Street mural in Mount Cook, where he currently lives.

Sheyne Tuffery says that, “making murals about local history strikes a chord in me. It’s something I take very seriously.”

Sheyne worked with groups of students from 11 schools and with one community group – Challenge 2000, coordinating workshops and collaborating on the mural’s design. Each group was assigned a topic about Johnsonville’s development as a thriving suburb, from its settlement in 1841 when Frank Johnson moved to the area and began clearing vast tracts of trees and bush. Other topics include World War I and II, the Old Coach Road, the Johnsonville Railway line, the Tip Top Factory, and Centennial Highway.

Schools were asked to select their preferred topic from a list shaped by Community Representatives. The most popular by far was the Johnsonville Railway line. This was clearly an important aspect in Johnsonville’s development. Sheyne made the decision to turn the mural into a train, each panel making up a different section to the train. This was a playful way to connect each panel along the length of the wall and to reflect the importance of the railway.

The mural will be completed and installed by 16 December, just in time for Christmas.