One of the driving forces behind The Culture Project was a desire to recognise and understand allusions to historic works, whether they be art, literature or music, when I stumbled across them, and recently I stumbled across the ‘ghost’ of Impressionist artist Claude Monet apparently engrossed in his work beside the lily pond at Wanganui’s Virginia Lake.
The work of local artist Robert Jaunay, the sculpture has regrettably recently lost his felt hat but nonetheless cuts an intriguing figure as he stands in monochrome solitude by his easel.
Jaunay was inspired by an exhibition of Monet’s work which he saw in Wellington a couple of years ago, and in which Monet’s preoccupation with water-lilies (he painted an estimated 250 images of them, mainly at his house in Giverny, during the last thirty years of his life) was obvious. The idea of placing his ‘ghost’ near the water-lily pond at the Lake struck during a walk there, and after several weeks of work in multiple media including chicken wire, acrylic paint and old clothing, ‘Monet’ was installed late last month and given permission to remain until the end of the year.
I’ve loved Monet’s dreamy works since I first encountered them in my high-school French class. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit the Musée d’Orsay (which houses the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world) while I was in Paris some years ago, and was thrilled to catch Monet’s echo here in Wanganui.