New backdrop for domain trains 

Cambridge Model Engineering Society members, from left front, Allen Edwards, Eli Taia, 7, and Cody Casey and back, Bruce Casey, Ron Crisp and Neil Milham. 

An ugly cream fence in Leamington Domain may be festooned in colour to ensure residents and visitors experience thought-provoking, culturally vibrant, enjoyable, challenging, and inspiring art.

Behind the fence is a shipping container which contains the Cambridge Model Engineering Society’s locomotions and paraphernalia.

While the trains are currently on hiatus until Cambridge gets back into level one lockdown, members met on Sunday to discuss club business and what might appear on the mural.

President Bruce Casey, committee members Allen Edwards, Ron Crisp and Neil Milham all support the mural and say there were looking forward to seeing the corner brightened up.

Discussion about what sort of mural would go on the wall was to have been discussed at the council’s Strategic Planning and Policy committee on Tuesday. The mural initiative in a public space is consistent with Waipā District Council’s Arts Policy, adopted in 2018.

But the Cambridge councillors successfully sought to have discussion “lie on the table” to allow the Cambridge Community Board to have some involvement in the decision.

Grahame Webber said he felt not involving the board was an “oversight” by the council while deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk said she wanted some comfort from the community board first.

The council is paying for the mural and all public art requires approval through the Strategic Planning and Policy committee.

Cambridge Netball Centre supports the proposal with the netballers saying they are keen on developing a mural to enhance a blank concrete wall on their site.

Museums and Heritage director Anne Blyth’s report to the committee said the proposed mural developed by artist Janie Neal would include multiple ply cut outs of local native flora and fauna set against the background of an historic map of the Waipā river and the land surrounding it.

Artist’s impression of the mural.

Artist’s impression of the mural.

“The mural is designed to reduce the impact of the built structures on the open space, having part of the mural mainly black and white with light brown colours will help achieve this. The proposed landscape painting depicting Maungatautari will be in full colour providing a colour contrast,” said Blyth.

Neal, who has a Bachelor of Media Arts majoring in painting from Wintec, has been involved in mural work for more than 10 years.

She has collaborated with schools, businesses, and councils to achieve their visions.

The mural, which would cost $14,000, would mainly use native flora and fauna. The background is an old map of the Waipā River, sourced from the Te Awamutu Museum.

On the left side of the mural would be a landscape painting of Maungatautari; then over the top cut outs including kowhai, cow, flax, horse, moths, cicada, tui, fantails, kawawa, kaka and huhu beetles.

It will help soften the hard landscaping and provide the community with some distinctive public art to enjoy.

Blyth said she hoped to have an art piece there would deter tagging and graffiti which would see maintenance costs for the fence reduced.

The train society have leased land at Leamington Domain for a miniature railway for 10 years and the track was opened in December 2012.

The 200-300m long track loops around the domain. A recent addition was the Lions’ Den Tunnel.

Casey said they were keen to recruit more volunteer members to run the miniature railway and learn how to drive the trains.

The trains have always been supported by local businesses, he said.

The domain is home to several sports including petanque, croquet, netball, skating and cricket. The children’s playground is one of the district’s best-supported venues with its life-sized steam roller and picnic tables which make it a popular birthday venue.

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