Memorial mural has family link for artist

Admiring the mural on a wall outside the Waimate Town & Country Club are (from left) club manager...
Admiring the mural on a wall outside the Waimate Town & Country Club are (from left) club manager Marie van Kleef, Waimate RSA president Rob Boswell and artist Bill Scott. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN
Waimate artist Bill Scott has always felt a deep connection with war.

His grandfather fought at Gallipoli, he had great-uncles killed in World War 1 and his father was injured in the Korean War.

When Waimate Town & Country Club manager Marie van Kleef asked Mr Scott to create a mural to remember New Zealand’s fallen soldiers, it was a full-circle moment.

Ms van Kleef and Mr Scott put their heads together, deciding what the mural should feature, and Mr Scott created sketches of what could work on the 35m-long wall.

The finished product depicts the silhouettes of a line of soldiers walking towards a field of poppies in front of a yellow and orange sky, with the New Zealand and Australian flags fluttering to give the artwork movement.

"It’s that brotherhood that we had with the Aussies," Mr Scott said.

One end of the mural had an image of a man, standing with his head bowed, as Mr Scott imagined him listening to the Last Post.

The mural took about 10 days to complete, and while the "canvas" had been challenging, it was part of the fun of it, he said.

Mr Scott, who has painted about eight murals in Waimate, said war had become a central part of life without his realising.

His father, Donald James Scott, who died last year age 95, had not spoken about his war experiences until later in life, and most veterans were similar.

"It is something they typically hold quite close to their chest, just the horror of it, and we see it now with Ukraine, and it just intrigues me. I’m horrified that it’s happening again.

"That’s the meaning of [the mural], and just the harsh reality of life and death, and all those emotions a thing like that [war] stirs up in your mind — it’s every emotion you can imagine really, that’s my connection."

Ms van Kleef was inspired by a mural she saw in Rangiora last year, and thought something similar would fit Waimate perfectly.

It also represented the amalgamation between the Waimate Town & Country Club and Waimate Returned and Services Association, she said.

She was thrilled with the final product.

Waimate RSA president Rob Boswell said he was "very, very pleased" with the mural.

"The members of the RSA here in Waimate are very humbled it’s gone ahead," Mr Boswell said.

Mr Scott had painted it "from his heart", and it added something extra to the town.


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