Saturday, 4 April 2015

Day 1 assembling the massive Gallipoli diorama at Weta Workshop

Today was Day 1 of the assembly of the diorama. About 20 of the Wellington region painters turned up this morning at Weta Workshop to help out. And what a day it was!

Firstly, I apologise for the lack of photos. I could say it was because of the confidentiality agreement we all had to sign on entering the Weta premises. However, that would be a lie, as I was given special permission to take photos for the blog so long as the background was not in view. So I did indeed take lots of photos - but I left the cord to transfer them from my camera to my computer back in Kapiti, when I'm staying the night here in Wellington! So the photos must remain safely on my camera for a night or two ...

That same confidentiality agreement means I can't tell you exactly what we did or saw during the day. But suffice to say that as we each entered the Weta building this morning, you could hear audible gasps of amazement at what we saw had been completed already on this project.

It was great to meet and work with Alan and Michael Perry, who had only flown in from the UK the day before. It was a real thrill to be able to chat with the actual sculptors of the figures we had laboured so long and lovingly over.

I can talk about the figures themselves, I think.  We unpacked literally thousands of them (the Perrys say they produced 5003 of them in the end!), and stuck them onto huge sheets of foam to sort them into the roughly 150 different poses and types.  It was terrific to recognise some of the actual figures I've seen in pics on this blog from all over the country.

Everyone who saw the figures set up in massive groups couldn't get over how fantastic they looked en masse (and some of us quickly realised that all that heart-ache about the colour of a button or missing a buckle was neither here nor there with so many figures!).

And as for those who were worried about the different styles of painting and shades of colour, their fears are dashed.  The variations on the thousands of figures makes the mass actually look better than if they were all done the same way.

Having said that, we did have a corrections team in action - a couple of very quick and talented painters who fixed up the very few garish colours or flaking paint (sorry to whoever painted that NZ guy with the dwarfish orange hair, he's now just got a plain brown hair-do again!). And there was the twit who painted some charging soldiers as Maori, when there were no Maori cast in charging positions - so these had to be quickly Pakeha-ised.

It was really heart-warming to hear how much everyone had valued being part of this painting project. Everyone felt it was a real privilege to be able to play their part in commemorating our Anzac ancestors and the Turks they fought against. Yes, sometimes painting loads of figures from a period you didn't usually play and in a style and size you weren't used to, when you had your own hobby projects backing up, could be a bit of a drag.  But all the time at the back of our minds was the thought that nothing, nothing at all, could compare to what our ancestors had had to go through.    

We're now on the final stages of the project. We all worked really hard during today (I can't say what on, but it is an essential part of such a diorama), but we didn't quite finish.  So we're back in action again tomorrow (yes, on Easter Sunday!) for another day of mysterious work. Then during the week the whole shebang gets transported to the Dominion Museum building, for the figures to be installed next weekend (which, seeing the masses of figures today, is going to be no mean feat in itself).       .

There are still a couple of hundred outstanding figures.  These need to be completed and sent back ASAP, as we'll need them by the weekend.


  1. Hmm, I hope that wasn't my redhead. I thought he looked rather realistic and not at all like a dwarf trollslayer.

  2. lol I did a ginger haired kiwi also, but pretty sure it wasn't trollslayer fluro :P

    Great to hear the inside info and excitement of the big build. Can't wait to head down one day and see it!

  3. I was handed the box that the Turks I painted were packed in and once I had unwrapped them and put them with the mass of figures I could no longer recognise the ones I had done. Reinforces what I said that for people involved in the painting of these miniatures all the models int he diorama are their work.

  4. I painted one ANZAC NCO with a Basil Faulty mustache. I could still pick him out amongst the other ANZACS. My rebellion in painting the Turkish mustaches and boots with Mahogany Brown rather than Carbon Black failed to make them stand out at all , and as you say, they blended into the massed Turks.