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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 3 (June 1, 1937)

Paint the Nation-makers

Paint the Nation-makers.

There is, too, the life of to-day, all around us. Has no artist the vision to grasp the wonderful dramatic quality of great engineering works in construction such as the Mohaka railway viaduct? It is a subject a Brangwyn would seize upon with delight. The artistic value lies in the scenes of human activity, man's effort to overcome the wilderness, to bridge the gulches. Most of the interest vanishes with completion of such tasks; the artist must show the pioneer at work.

I remember that during the making of the North Island Trunk Railway I rode down the valley of the Ongarue to Taumarunui and thought what a subject it was for an artist—the white camps, tents and slab whares, of a thousand navvies; gleaming among clumps of dark bush and on the pumice terraces by the river, the great rock cuttings in the half-way stage, the busy little puffing locos. Alas! Our artists were all painting “The Waitemata by Moonlight” and “The Rose Bowl.”