Home' Greymouth Star : December 8th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Tuesday, December 8, 2015
PICTURE: Laura Mills
Mark Haldane beside his mural outside the SPCA in Preston Road, Greymouth.
Artist Mark Haldane is the creative mind behind some of the big murals that are starting to brighten
up Greymouth. The British boy who used to draw on his bedroom walls is now a professional artist. He
told LAURA MILLS about why he loves it here, and what he wants to paint next.
rofessional artist Mark Haldane
grew up in Surrey, England, the
son of a photographer.
He started young, drawing on
his bedroom walls, so his mum
stripped the wallpaper and
let him unleash his art. He kept up art at
school, specialising in A level art and A level
sculpture, helped partly by two inspirational
Out in the real world, he spent 10 years as
a landscape gardener, and has just recently
returned to that, helping with the garden at
the Karoro kindergarten.
But as a young man he over worked and
could not keep the gardening up. He moved
to New Zealand with his now ex-wife in
2000, originally to Nelson.
One of his memorable impressions of the
West Coast is the flax bushes along the
Taylor ville- Blackball Road. And he loves
the vast skies, the vast landscapes.
“In England you are hemmed in by
buildings,” he says.
He had sold art in the United Kingdom
and started to do so here, initially through a
florist. People would commission paintings
and he would match the colours to their
house. They retailed for $150 and he
laboured over many for 15 hours. As he sold
more, his confidence grew — both in his
ability, and the scale of his works. In time,
people started trusting his judgment, giving
him free rein.
He first jumped off the canvas to paint
a garage wall, turning a couple’s pets into
characters in a mural.
Time passed, and another garage wall,
before he made another jump this year
— his first public mural in Greymouth,
a kotuku on the wall of Cafe DP1. Not
only could it hardly be more public, facing
Mawhera Quay, but it was far bigger than
anything he had done before.
He started it while balanced on scaffolding
but found that too exhausting, so he moved
to a scissor lift. It took a fortnight to
“It was a ner ve-wracking experience.”
Other murals include the train at
the hospital overbridge (a Kiwi Rail
commission), another train at the
Greymouth Star, and educational ones
at Greymouth High School and the
Scenicland Preschool in Shakespeare Street.
The beautiful red tribute to Anzac Day on
the side of the RSA also attracted lots of
He has painted trucks, bedroom walls, and
the coffee and Thai food carts. His most
recent is the gable wall at the SPCA.
He even re-did the 50-year-old ice-cream
sign outside the Karoro Dairy.
Due to the sheer size of some of his pieces,
Haldane sometimes uses masking tape to
‘sketch’ parts before starting.
“I ’m not about making masses of money.
I want to see the town more colourful,” he
Although some of his most high profile
works feature trains, his interest is actually
light: “I like working with light, how
different objects hold the light. ”
He would love to do a super-sized mural
on the rear of the Postie Plus block of shops
in Mackay Street, while another aspiration
is colouring in the backs of shops facing the
“Imagine going along the back of the
buildings, doing a scene and blowing it up
so big, and encompassing all the buildings.
What an entrance to town!”
Through his art, and use of colour, he
wants people to realise the potential of street
art. He talks passionately about bringing
colour to Greymouth.
At home, Haldane has two children and
his own walls are graced with the work of
other artists, including Naoko Hopkinson.
He was involved in the Whiteroom and the
Rockbox galleries in Greymouth.
He is settled on the Coast, and happy here.
He returned to England in 2005 and retains
his Surrey accent, but he would never live
“ I’m loving it. I hope it (art) continues.”
Greymouth High School.
A bedroom wall.
Grey Base Hospital overbridge.
A mural on the side of a truck.
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