Mike Armstrong

The commission was for a painting on a historical theme of Timaru Harbour for the Aigantighe Art Gallery collection to be used for a design for the coastal series of Wuhoo signs.
Hamish Pettingell of the Aigantighe, Roselyn Fauth of the Friends of the Aigantighe and I discussed aspects of the history of the harbour, and Roselyn put me onto Blackett's story. The South Canterbury museum archives and researchers were invaluable, newspaper cuttings and historical photographs provided great source material for the painting’s imagery. Few people know the political or historical significance of the contentious issues around the formation of the harbour which locals had fought for for years against the Provincial and Central Governments. Blackett was the Government engineer who proposed the demolition of the breakwater soon after work had started, which raised the ire of the local public, resulting in a mob marching his effigy down the main street and exploding it on the end of the breakwater. It is a vivid story worth retelling. - Mike Armstrong

Thanks to a generous gift to the Friends, we are in the position to commission special artworks to gift to the Aigantighe collection. These artworks share a Timaru story. These are then reproduced on art history signs and placed in public places for people to enjoy.