The Mural in Howick, on the corner of Fencible Drive and Cook Street.

This was commissioned by the Howick Village Business Association, and paid for from a grant from the Department Of Justice. The brief for the work was broadly to be a historic, Howick depiction. The owners of the nearby “Rosscourt” said that they preferred a maritime theme.

The mural is to proceed in three stages. Stage one is completed. Stage two is another large painting “Working Horses” that will face the intersection. There are two more paintings as stage three, to be placed further down Cook Street to the left of the completed stage one.

More figures are planned also. I have used my own mixture to arrive at the dark blue, but I have the formula saved, so that anyone should be able to go to a paint shop and get a match when touch ups are needed. I painted the building behind, “Rosscourt” the same colour so that it disappeared behind my mural. The only warm colours in the area are my mural pieces, so that they are dominant.


Ron with mural Ron with mural

Ron and JoRon and Jo

Why the figures?

I wanted to do more than just paintings. Sooner or later, people will stop looking at them, but the life size figures attract attention, as they look like a crowd that has gathered, and is already looking at something. And I wanted to have more fun painting the mural. I got the figures by visiting a “Santa Parade” in Henderson, and the Auckland Zoo.

Every time I got my camera out, I had to explain why I wanted to take their photo, and of course it became ‘posed’ straight away, so I had to go to a place that I could take photos, and not draw attention to myself. So while they were all looking at the animals, and the parade, I was photographing them from behind. I did no want too many that were looking straight at the paintings, as that would place the view from right behind them, as this is very boring for me to paint, and not very creative visually.

They were painted in Oils, so that I could get the detail as near to the real thing as I can. Acrylics have the unhappy problem that they dry a different colour to when they are wet, and that I knew would be a problem if I had to touch these up later. The same thing applies with the paintings.

Working Horses PaintingPainting "Working Horses"

Cockle Bay Wharf"Cockle Bay Wharf"

The paintings, will they be stable outside?

The frames are actually not framing at all, but builder’s architrave. I chose a hard wood, and further treated them. They are painted on a piece of Marine Ply that extends outside the frame, so that I could screw the frame to that, and not joining it at the corners as you would a real frame. The corners do not touch, so that hopefully the rain water will not lodge in the end grain, and the air can dry it out. They are also painted right round, and also they have been aged with a thin layer of tar.
So I hope they will not rot, but I am not sure of how long they will last, and I am watching them very closely. So far they are good. I have some test pieces that have been outside now since December 2009. They have all been painted on marine ply, so hopefully they will not rot from the back.

Howick Beach"Howick Beach"

Mellons Beach"Melons Beach"

Who are the figures?

The girl with the ‘Preggie bump’ is my daughter Jodine, and the bump is now my grandson Hunter. The girl in the red top is my other daughter Tracy, with another grandson Hadley. I have no idea who the others are. You may see someone that you know?

Daughter Jo
Daughter Tracey

Links to articles about this mural:

Howick Village Association

Howick and Pakuranga Times


The Second Mural in Howick, near to “Stockade Hill”.


This second Mural was completed in 2011, just as the Rugby World cup was happening. The existing mural was very badly fading, and the structure was rotting, so it had to go. I photographed it so that it will not be lost to the history of Howick.I decided to include figures, and the dark blue colour, to tie the two murals together, as I had already placed figures in the other mural, on the corner of Picton Street and Cook St. They have been more popular than the paintings, so I decided to do the same to this mural also, at the top of Picton Street. Both sets of figures were painted from photographs that I took while visiting the Auckland Zoo, with the exception of two of them that are my daughters.

Figures based on photos taken at Auckland Zoo
Figures based on photos taken at Auckland Zoo

The main part of the mural was painted from a photo that was originally taken back in 1910. It was taken from almost the exact same spot that the mural now occupies. This photo was selected as it is the photo that features on the cover of “Grey’s Folly” by Alan La Roche, a history of Howick. I painted the image in my studio, on a wood panel that is about 2400 x 1200 cm. The original work is for sale, and is featured in the “Gallery” section of this web site. This original Oil painting was then photographed using a 50 MP camera, and digitally expanded to the finished size of 7.6 metres x 2.5 metres. It was printed on five sticky back panels by “Sign It” of Sandringham. To my knowledge, this has never been done for a mural before. This project has been the most difficult and time consuming job that I have ever done. The photo gave me very little solid details and no colour references as I had only a very old black and white photocopy to work with. In the past, when I am having my work made into a print, I make the original work larger than the finished size is to be, so that the detail becomes tighter as the print is condensed down. In this mural, the exact opposite was the only way that I could work. The print became a lot looser as it was increased in size. So the original had to be tighter and more detailed to allow for this to happen. And I had less detail as a resource to start with than I had ever had!!

I had to anticipate that the red colour of the iron roofs will fade, so I had to paint them in much more red than I would have liked to allow for the U.V to do what U.V. usually does. So it was no surprise that I did not know about the old church that stood at the far end of the road, but is not visible in original resource photo. My apologies for that!!

Artist Ron Gibble with completed mural
Artist Ron Gribble standing in front of the completed mural

Completed mural by Ron Gribble
The completed mural

So why did I supply it as a sticky back digital image, and not just paint it on the spot?
This decision has many parts;

  1. I live in blockhouse Bay, so travelling back to Howick regularly would be a very time consuming and costly exercise.
  2. I believe that I can control the colours much better in the studio, and thus get a better finished job.
  3. The need to put guards on the painting to stop people from climbing the scaffolding at night is eliminated.
  4. The advent of the digital age has made it possible for me to photograph the original painting with a 50 MP camera. This allows me to have the photo ‘blown up’ to the finished size with the minimum of distortion.
  5. If it is damaged or fades, I can print out all or some of the panels again, and restore it. This has in fact proven to be a good decision, as a car has already damaged the structure, and two of the panels, which will be peeled off, by the company that has supplied it, called “Sign It”
  6. Graffiti Guards are much better when used on the digital images, as they are a solid sheet, rather than paint.
The original painting will be an original Howick piece of history in itself and is for sale from the artist.


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