'Strolling the TranzAlpine'

Oil painting on linen by Grant McSherry. 1500 mm x 760 mm.

TranzAlpine rail painting by Grant McSherry

The oil painting ‘Strolling the TranzAlpine’ originated from an impromptu trip into the Southern Alps in July 2004. The winter morning was fine and blue, just after a Southerly had passed through and I could see from Christchurch the snow was well down on the Alps. Although I had planned to spend the day painting I decided to take the opportunity to get into the Alps with a new camera for a few trial shots. Having packed ‘Wellington’ our Newfoundland canine companion into the wagon I set off for the Southern Alps, stopping to take photos from Porters Pass on, where the snowline reached the road.

Left: The original, 'Strolling the TranzAlpine' by Grant McSherry is a large size oil painting, finished in a hand crafted, black lacquer shadow frame with negative space.Left: The original, 'Strolling the TranzAlpine' is a large size oil painting, finished in a hand crafted, black lacquer shadow frame with negative space.

As is usually the way on a great day after a Southerly, the roadside at Porters and Lake Lynden was racked with cars while the occupants played with their kids, sliding down the slopes on all manner of devices. I had been interested in investigating Lake Sarah for some time, so reaching the tiny lake was my ultimate objective. Wellington & I continued toward Arthur’s Pass before taking the discreetly marked right hand turn toward the alpine fishing lake. Lake Sarah happens to be the area where the road pass through the Alps meets the TranzAlpine rail route, so a clamber around the tracks was obligatory. It was here that I found the image that was to become the basis for the oil painting ‘Strolling the TranzAlpine.’ The idea to trial the camera was definitely worthwhile.

For train travellers, the TranzAlpine train journey begins at Christchurch and finishesTranzAlpine railway near Lake Sarah at Greymouth, the scenic trip spanning from one coast of New Zealand to the other. Apparently, the train ride is rated as one of the world’s great scenic railway journeys. The TranzAlpine ride is 223.8 kilometres long and takes four and a half hours to complete. There are 16 tunnels and 5 viaducts, the highest being the Staircase standing at 73 metres. The route certainly passes through some impressive countryside…for me it was enough to inspire this oil painting.

I began work on ‘Strolling the TranzAlpine’ in December 2004, In fact, I spent Christmas Day working on the under-painting (before we opened the Chardonnay!). I finally completed the oil painting in early May 2005. ‘Strolling the TranzAlpine’ is a large work by my current standards. As the image dimension is narrow, I increased the width to 1.5 metres to maximise the depth, helping to make the most of the impact created by this bold, sweeping image.

Original painting 'Strolling the TranzAlpine': Oil on linen
Original painting size:1500mm x 760mm.