Auckland artist Dave Stewart is making crosses at his temporary home in Whanganui's Glasgow St.

Made from wood, metal and found materials, they represent the lives of motorcyclists lost on New Zealand roads this year.

Stewart is the current artist-in-residence at the Glasgow St studio where he is working on an installation project inspired by the loss of a friend.

"My friend Robert Mitchell was killed while we were on a road trip last January.

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"He was visiting from the USA and we were having a great ride until he was hit by a car and died."

Stewart said the car driver fell asleep at the wheel and ran into his friend as the pair were riding south of Russell in the Bay of Islands at around 4.30pm.

Around 50 motorcyclists die on NZ roads each year and 30 per cent of them are killed by other road users.

"This work is both a means for me to express my feelings about Robert's death and I hope it will raise awareness of motorbike deaths and encourage both car drivers and motorcyclists to take more care on the roads."

Stewart says he thinks of the counting games that children play when they are on long road trips in cars.

"I know Minis are a popular thing to count and maybe if families count motorcyclists on the roads they might become more aware of them."

The installation taking shape in the studio includes a number of found objects including some misspelt road signs.

"I found those in a bin during an inorganic collection in Auckland and wanted to incorporate them."

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Stewart has been talking to other motorcycle enthusiasts for inspiration and says Whanganui has sparked his imagination.

"It is a great place and I have enjoyed finding objects that lend themselves to the project.

"Things that I find are often catalysts for my work."

Stewart's finished work will be exhibited at Gallery 85 where previous artist-in-residence Katerina Smoldyreva's Distorted Monument exhibition is currently showing.

Smoldyreva's ceramic works were inspired by the life of former Whanganui mayor Charles Mackay.