bon voyage, 2016 – Rachael Dewhirst

SCAPE Public Art

bon voyage, thought to be the longest mural in New Zealand, is visible both to locals and train-line passengers as they enter and depart Christchurch. Approximately 205 metres long, the artwork was created by Rachael Dewhirst from a commission by PlaceMakers Riccarton, and, appropriately, is painted (by Tobin Bain-Hogg of StreetSeen) on the border fence of the store’s site. As its title suggests, bon voyage is a positive ‘well-wish’ for a journey, as well as being a true arts and industry collaboration, and is Dewhirst’s second public artwork produced by SCAPE Public Art.

Her inspiration for the design comes from an evolving and continued reflection on her journeys through France. With the mural location in mind, coupled with travel being forefront of the artist’s experience, the focus naturally led to a concept of journeying.

“In recognising the role of PlaceMakers in the rebuild, I believe it was right for the work to convey a sense of life, hope and vibrancy for the future,” she states. “The title of the work is just that, bon voyage, a hope for a safe and enjoyable journey whatever and wherever that might be.”

The piece encapsulates both the artist’s and commissioner’s desire to bestow well wishes to the city and people, with Dewhirst considering the experience of the mural from passing trains. The river is a reference to the Ōtākaro, Christchurch’s Avon River, and is used as a rhythmical pulse that weaves its way through the design like a heartbeat tying the different pieces together.

Figurative silhouettes and block forms can be seen, some distinguishable as animals, boats, landscapes and parts of architectural forms, while others are more abstract with the intention of leaving the work open to interpretation and the imagination of individual viewers.

Produced by SCAPE Public Art. Images courtesy of the artist.
PlaceMakers Riccarton, 2/20-22 Mandeville Street
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