New Zealander Freeman White has created a stunning shark mural as a tribute to the late Rob Stewart. The mural was created as part of the Seawalls: Artists for Oceans festival in Napier during 20th – 25th March 2017 and is one of twenty large-scale murals around the city.
Freeman confirmed ‘The founder of Pangeaseed, Tre Packard, was a personal friend of Rob Stewart and asked me if I would design a mural in dedication to Rob’s amazing work in the field of shark conservation.’
The mural was completed in five days and it measures approximately 24 x 4 metres. It is Freeman’s largest work to date and he commented ‘volunteers…helped to block in some of the shapes on the first two days. Then I was able to finish the mural, painting a few extra layers of detail.’
The eye-catching mural incorporates a quote from Rob Stewart:
Conservation is the preservation of human life on earth. Rob Stewart 1979-2017.
Freeman’s work is intended to portray sharks as the beautiful, majestic creatures they are. ‘I hope to draw the viewer in and make them think differently about these amazing creatures that are often portrayed as the meanest of predators,’ he said.
The Seawalls festival is run by PangeaSeed Foundation, in collaboration with Napier City Council and the Alternative Arts Initiative. Twenty-five contemporary muralists from around the world painted twenty murals around Napier, which joined the twenty murals from last year’s festival. The artwork aims to address the issues affecting our oceans and to highlight the importance of marine conservation.
Rob Stewart was well-known for his 2006 documentary Sharkwater, which brought shark finning to the public’s attention and inspired conservationists worldwide. The film received 31 international awards and was followed by his 2013 documentary about environmental collapse; Revolution. Rob died whilst filming Sharkwater Extinction at the Queen of Nassau wreck, 9.7 kilometres (6 miles) off the coast of Islamorada in January 2017. There are plans for Sharkwater Extinction to be completed as a tribute to his work and passion for ocean conservation.