'The Mountain of Taranaki'
Oil painting on linen by Grant McSherry. 1200 mm x 800 mm.
While Te Maunga o Taranaki (or Mount Taranaki / Egmont as it is now known) sleeps farms, settlements and roads have been defiantly established around the volcano’s great circumference. This oil painting and art print depicts some of our interaction with the land around Mt Taranaki Egmont …you might interpret the work as a thought on how temporary those efforts to tame the landscapes immediately around Mt Taranaki / Egmont may turn out to be in the event that the mighty volcano awakes.
Mt Taranaki / Egmont last awoke in 1755 and has erupted at least eight times in the last 6,000 years. Two eruptions only around 1,300 years ago produced Fanthams Peak and the Beehive, depicted to the left of the painting. Experts believe that Mt Taranaki / Egmont is far from being extinct and its reawakening is inevitable.
Maori legend describes a time when all of the great North island volcanoes coexisted on the central Plateau. Te Maunga o Taranaki (The Mountain of Taranaki) had a conflict of epic proportions with Mt Tongariro and after huge eruptions all round, which resulted in the depletion of Mt Tongariro in height, Te Maunga o Taranaki uprooted and left in anger and grief to where he sleeps today, trapped by the sea and the Poakai Range.
Mt Taranaki / Egmont was the catalyst for my interest in mountains, which in turn seems to fuel my art. My fascination with mountains began through childhood trips to the “snow.” These excursions were initially to Mt Taranaki, or Mount Egmont as it was then widely known, and the volcano has retained my interest ever since. Even today, as far as I am concerned, Mt Taranaki / Egmont is New Zealand’s most beautiful volcano, perhaps even the most awesome mountain in New Zealand although not the tallest.
I have been looking forward to painting Mt Taranaki / Egmont for some time now and when I finally planned my trip back to the North Island to visit the mountain and collect material I was relying on good fortune as far as weather conditions were concerned. On clear sky days Mt Taranaki / Egmont is ubiquitous… dominating the landscape for many kilometres in every direction, but conversely you can be right underneath the great volcano for days on end when it is shrouded in cloud and not even know its there. I was most fortunate on this trip, capturing material to work with on every day spent around Mt Taranaki / Egmont.
This is the first oil painting from a series of Mount Taranaki / Egmont from my expedition in September 2005.
painting 'The Mountain of Taranaki':
oil on linen.