Hear My Train a Comin, harks back to Whanganui’s history as a major railroad center in New Zealand for nearly 100 years. The brick train protruding 4 meters above the ground sits aptly near the rail yards where the previous government railroad employed close to a thousand across the nation at its peak.
The title based on the blues songs, made popular by Jimi Hendrix in the 1960’s, hints at the progress made with these arterial transportation routes. Bunkley has worked with railroad themes for many years and used 3D software to ‘map’ pavers as a grid ontoa computer model of a train based on KiwiRail’s latest locomotives. The wheel undercarriage was fabricated in Whanganui, using a computer-guided water-cutting machine.
The sculpture commissioned after independent judge Mercedes Vicente, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, selected it as winner of the Sculpture Wanganui 2011 competition. Vicente said of her choice,
“What ultimately drew me to this work is its site specificity to Wanganui’s historical context, both in its subject (referencing Wanganui as the former centre of the railroad workshops) and use of materials (the pavers of Main Street that resonates with the bricks found along the riverbank). There is a nostalgic and celebratory embracement of local history as well as a potential rejuvenation of a form of transportation not quite obsolete.”