Noakes painting on wall vinyl rehung

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.
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 of us.''

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 children's ward.

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 Dunedin.

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.''

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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