Te Kaha painting celebrates shipbuilding milestone

Artist Christina Morrison’s painting of Royal New Zealand Navy warship HMNZS Te Kaha passing Fisgard Lighthouse. Morrison, an employee of Seaspan Victoria Shipyards, was commissioned to do the painting following completion of extensive upgrades performed on the Anzac-Class frigate by her company. Credit: Seaspan Victoria Shipyards

Artist Christina Morrison’s painting of Royal New Zealand Navy warship HMNZS Te Kaha passing Fisgard Lighthouse. Morrison, an employee of Seaspan Victoria Shipyards, was commissioned to do the painting following completion of extensive upgrades performed on the Anzac-Class frigate by her company. Credit: Seaspan Victoria Shipyards

Peter Mallett
Staff Writer
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The most recent work of marine artist Christina Morrison now adorns a wall at Seaspan’s offices in Esquimalt.

She was commissioned by the shipyard company, where she also works, to paint the Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha.

The Anzac-class frigate underwent extensive upgrades at Seaspan in Esquimalt. The project represented the first time a foreign warship has undergone a modernization project in Canada since the Second World War. Work on Te Kaha was completed last year with the ship returning home to Davenport Naval Base in December. Te Kaha’s sister ship Te Mana is currently undergoing a similar upgrade in Esquimalt.

Six members of Victoria Shipyards senior management attended the unveiling before the painting was put on display. Approximately 1,000 copies have been distributed to workers throughout the company to celebrate the occasion.

“The ceremony went very well, and everyone seemed to love the painting,” said Morrison. “It was humbling to hear from so many co-workers around the shipyard how much they loved it.”

Finding the right aerial photo that offered a detailed depiction of the ship’s exterior was crucial, says Morrison. Maritime Forces Pacific Imaging Services sent her an overhead drone photo of Te Kaha taken by photographer Sgt Malcolm Byers.

With the image in hand, she had only a few weeks to complete the painting and get it printed. 

“The biggest challenge in painting Te Kaha from a photo was all the different shades of grey. I was frightened that something important would be missed because of the shadows cast by the sun.”

Now that Te Kaha is complete, she is focused on her goal to paint all the tugboats in B.C. She estimates the project will take up to 15 years to complete.

Artist Christina Morrison’s painting of Queen’s Harbour Master tug boat YTM 555 - CFAV Tillicum.

Artist Christina Morrison’s painting of Queen’s Harbour Master tug boat YTM 555 – CFAV Tillicum.

Recently, she completed Queen’s Harbour Master (QHM) tug CFAV Tillicum from a photo taken by Victoria marine photographer Richard Paddle. She plans to paint all six QHM tug boats.

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