Jennepher Noakes (left) and Barbara Brinsley admire a John Noakes painting, salvaged from the former children's ward at Dunedin Hospital and rehung near the new children's ward. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
As Barbara Brinsley stood in the former children's ward at
Dunedin Hospital, working out how to relocate the murals of
the late John Noakes, part of the answer fell at her feet.
One of his paintings was on vinyl sheets attached to the
walls of a lift and, when the Dunedin Hospital Art Committee
aesthetic co-ordinator was in the area recently, it fell off.
''All the other murals are painted straight on to the wall.
''We are worried about how to get them off.
''This is so fortunate - it just fell off the wall in front
Mrs Brinsley said the painting, done in 1984, was one of many
colourful depictions painted by Mr Noakes on four levels of
the former Children's Pavilion.
It took him more than a year, working fulltime, to complete
the project, she said.
The painting from the lift was now situated in a service area
next to the new children's ward entrance, and Mrs Brinsley
said she hoped it would be just the first of several of the
works from that ward transferred to new locations in the new
She was looking to secure some of the doors from the old ward
which had also been painted by Mr Noakes.
But as for the remaining murals, she had no idea what would
happen to them.
''As far as I can see, there's no need to remove them - they
can just stay there,'' she said.
Mr Noakes' widow Jennepher said she was delighted the
committee had been able to save a small part of her late
husband's expansive work.
''I feel very grateful to Barbara for preserving John's art,
because it's now there for ever and a day, for all to see.''
Her husband had been a prolific painter and had left his mark
around the world, including at a London hotel, on numerous
sets for Television New Zealand and on 65 bus shelters around
Mrs Brinsley said she thought it was important to make the
effort to preserve Mr Noakes' artwork.
''Art is long, and life is short.
''That says a lot. People don't realise how short life is.''