Motorhome makeover

By: Claire Smith, Photography by: Claire Smith, additional images by Paul Walsh


Motorhome-tui-design A classic New Zealand Tui Motorhome-tui-design
Motorhome-wave-design Kiwiana indeed! Motorhome-wave-design

MCD caught up with an Auckland couple who have transformed their motorhome into a unique piece of art

When Auckland couple Paul and Karyn Sullivan head out in their motorhome, they’re pretty hard to miss. In fact, you could probably pick them out of a crowd of hundreds. Just look for the beautiful beachy Kiwiana artwork on wheels.

Having wanted to purchase a motorhome for many years, Paul and Karyn felt the time was right to realise their dream when a much-loved aunt left them an inheritance last year.

Piece -of -art

The couple found a near-perfect vehicle on Trade Me and started their travels soon after.

Like most motorhomers, the couple began adding to and customising their motorhome with each trip. They replaced the interior plastic mouldings with timber, added new curtains, and had new carpet installed, all of which has helped breathe new life into the 1994 Mitsubishi Canter, which they have since dubbed ‘The Cruze-R’.

After meeting another motorhomer at a gypsy fair, who had a mural painted on his van, Paul had the idea of giving the motorhome a total makeover.

"We started to realise how many motorhomes were plain white, and initially, we thought about just changing the colour," Paul says. "But with quotes coming in at around $10,000 for a paint job, we started looking at other options."

Soon after, another traveller suggested they look at hiring a graffiti artist to give The Cruze-R a bold new look. This eventually led the couple to graffiti artist Paul Walsh.

Paul Walsh's work

Painted

If you live in, or have driven through Auckland, you’ve probably seen several pieces of Walsh’s work on the Chorus network exchange boxes that dot the city and suburban streets.

Karyn and Paul approached Walsh with their idea for the motorhome mural and he was happy to be involved. "Our brief was just something Kiwiana, such as a beach scene with a pohutakawa," Paul says.

Walsh produced a rough pencil-on-paper sketch for the couple before setting to work turning The Cruze-R into a mobile work of art.

"My plan was to show two sides of a beach scene—one with a sandy beach, the other with a harbour shoreline," Walsh explains.

Motorhome -art

The paintjob took a total of just four days. "The great thing about painting with spray cans is that they are really fast.

A self-taught artist, Walsh began selling canvasses when still in high school. His artwork has since received international attention and has featured on local film and TV shows such as Sione’s Wedding 2 and The Almighty Johnsons.

This year, Walsh is entering a portrait into the Adam Portraiture Award—one of the country’s longest running art prizes.

Walsh explains that although he had painted a couple of cars many years ago, painting a motorhome presented some unique challenges he wasn’t expecting.

"One of the biggest challenges was accessing the top half of the vehicle without leaning against it," Walsh says. "I also found the paint tended to drip more than expected on the motorhome surface, so I need to take extra care and precision with how I applied the paint."

The final step in the makeover was a coat of clear coat to seal the new paintjob, and The Cruze-R was ready to be shown off. "We get lots of lovely feedback from other travellers," says Paul. "We’ve even had someone knock on our door at home and ask if he could buy our motorhome!" But with many travels adventures planned for the future, it’s fair to say The Cruze-R is most definitely not for sale.

"Since Christmas this year, we’ve been away every weekend, bar two," says Karyn. And with their new diesel heater keeping things cosy and warm on board, the couple are planning to make the most of their weekends over the winter months – so be sure to give them a wave if you spot The Cruze-R on your travels!

Keep up to date with news by signing up to nzmcd.co.nz's free newsletter or by liking us on Facebook