Earnest Bradley and Eva Fuemana are smashing a rugby-themed painting on a wall in central Whangārei. Photo / Michael Cunningham
A Northland artist who’s done a number of murals in central Whangārei has turned his focus on painting themes around the Women’s Rugby World Cup games in town.
Earnest Bradley has almost finished a rugby-themed painting on a wall overlooking a public carpark on Dent St and hopes RWC organizers and the Whangārei District Council provide him opportunities to do more walls in the lead-up to the tournament.
His painting on Dent St resembles a woman with a rugby ball, showcasing how fast and strong the sport of women’s rugby is growing.
The world map across her jersey acknowledges the Women’s Rugby World Cup and he’s done Māori patterns down the end. Auckland-based artist Eva Fuemana is helping him with the mural.
They met while painting a 20m wall inside Expo 2020 in Dubai earlier this year.
Bradley was approached by Creative Northland and RWC2021 organizers to do the artwork on Dent St and said he would love to do more to make the inner city more attractive to rugby fans and visitors alike.
“Names of countries and sponsors were not allowed so I wanted to paint something that depicts female rugby power. When I played rugby, girls could play but … there was nothing past a certain age.
“Now all that has changed. Women are even headlining the UFC nowadays. If there’s anything we can do to support women’s rugby, we will,” he said.
Bradley plans to buy a lot of RWC2021 tickets for Whangārei games and give them away as another way of promoting the tournament.
He may have time to watch the Black Ferns v Scotland game in Whangārei and another match but he’s called on Northlanders to get behind the global event being staged in their home patch.
Born in Auckland, but living in Northland for more than 10 years, Bradley has done large-scale street art for about two decades and has painted in 28 countries so far.
His father was an artist and he and his brother grew up around art.
Fuemana also has a similar background and had just finished high school when renowned choreographer and actress Paris Goebel invited applications for budding artists to submit designs for Expo 2020.
Her design was chosen and she traveled to Dubai for the artwork. There’s a chance she and Bradley will return to Dubai later this year.
In mid 2020, Bradley painted a mural of former All Black Ian Jones in his home town of Kamo.
The artist remembered Jones from when he was a child and he was always a good role model when Bradley wanted to be a league player.
Plenty of activities are planned in Whangārei in the lead-up to the RWC2021.
Organizers are encouraging businesses to adopt a country during the month of October.
This could be with theming, flags, special drink or menu items, staff T-shirts and match-day activities.
Countries to adopt include New Zealand, Australia, England, France, Canada, USA, Wales, Japan, Scotland, Fiji, Italy and South Africa.
Three World Rugby murals, designed and painted by Northland artists with support from Creative Northland, have been installed and giant posters hung in prominent locations around the Town Basin.
The tournament will feature four double and triple-header match days at Northland Events Center through October, with the quarter-finals on October 29.
The first three matches will be played at the center on October 9. The USA play Italy, Japan play Canada and Wales play Scotland.
The Black Ferns take on Scotland on October 22.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids.