November brought BIG news – almost 10 years after the landmark Rise exhibition, Canterbury Museum will stage SHIFT – an urban art takeover of the iconic institution and a final hurrah to the building before redevelopment. But, this exciting news isn’t all that made November memorable! From international rock stars to small street art, summer is shaping up to be exciting!
SHIFT – Urban Art Takeover @ Canterbury Museum
Perhaps the biggest news of November was the announcement of SHIFT – Urban Art Takeover – a massive artistic takeover of the Museum, with over 50 artists transforming 5 floors of the iconic cultural institution! A completely unique exhibition, this is sure to be an unprecedented event!
Dcypher @ Chiwahwah
A fresh new work appeared along the lively Terrace strip in the central city in November, with a striking Mexican-inspired anamorphic mural by local legend Dcypher on Chiwahwah Cantina’s exterior wall. The mural stretches along the wall and is best viewed from a specific vantage point – make sure you find it!
Ikarus goes small…
Dcypher’s DTR crewmate was also busy, but at a different scale, with a series of small urban diorama’s covertly placed around the city. The grimy settings like tiny stage sets that blend into the surrounding environment.
Archetypes, a collaborative show by Dr Suits and Jessie Rawcliffe ran through November at Fiksate Gallery. The alluring paintings combine Rawcliffe’s stunningly meticulous portraits with Dr Suits’ dynamic abstraction, the results forming a beautiful suite of works that illuminated new readings of each artist.
Klaudia Bartos @ TyanHAUS
Another exhibition that we loved in November was Klaudia Bartos’ Haus of Heads at TyanHAUS in Sydenham. The beguiling series of surreal, devilish visages, produced mediums ranging from watercolour to fabric, were haunting and intriguing, inviting closer inspection…
Normally And That Was… is capped at five entries, but I couldn’t leave the return of live gigs by international artists returning to Christchurch! I may have missed UK band Idles, but a week later I was able to witness an impressive performance by US alt legend Jack White, and, it is safe to say, I’m glad I did! There was a request for no videos, so the video below will make do to replicate the energetic opener Taking Me Back…
They were out highlights from November 2022 – what were yours? Let us know in the comments!
October is a month that keeps you guessing. The weather is still likely to throw a few curve balls, and people tend to not know if they are still in a mid-year blitz or are creeping towards the end of the year wind-down. It feels like this unpredictable manner extends to the art in the streets, with surprises popping up in the form of both small additions and large projects. October 2022 kicked off with the Christchurch Hip Hop Summit, saw a refresh for the Berlin Wall, and provided a range of little surprises in between. So, let’s have a look at what we loved in October…
The Dance-O-Mat gets a facelift…
Gap Filler’s iconic Dance-O-Mat had already made itself known in it’s new home on Manchester Street, but in October, it got a brighter spruce-up when the Christchurch Hip Hop Summit Graffiti Jam painted the walls of the site with traditional pieces and characters by Tepid, YSEK, Meep, Drows, Xact and APEK. Additionally, the temporary wall was unveiled as a paste-up site, with the wood covered by the Slap City collective.
DTR X FILTH Crews Collab
In addition to the Dance-O-Mat Graffiti Jam, the Cathedral Square section of Spark Lane also got some new art courtesy of a collaborative production between the FILTH crew and DTR. Coordinated by Ikarus as an additional element of the Hip Hop Summit, the jam featured some Christchurch graffiti royalty in a Simpsons/Masters of the Universe mash-up themed production. With the site now opened and more visible, the painting is a timely addition and reminder of the talented local scene.
Local stencil artist Bols refreshed the west-facing side of the Berlin Wall in Rauora Park. The text-based painting, based on a quote from German politician Willy Brandt, continues the artist’s investigation of words as image. The layered text in reds, orange, yellow and white, echo not only the German flag, but also the flames of protest, a reminder of what it takes to break down walls.
Complementary Summoning Spot
Right next to the Berlin Wall, we also found one of our favourite pieces of street art, if it can be called as such – perhaps it is more aptly described as an activation – of the dead! Cinder’s Complementary Summoning Spot, seeingly installed by Archfiend, is an urban ouija board, adding a spiritual twist to the streets, and daring passers-by to scratch that supernatural itch!
Sam and Sandra…
To sign off on October, we take a very different direction, a much more wholesome example of urban inscription. Is there anything more heart-warming than a declaration of friendship inscribed for posterity? Sam and Sandra are BFF’s and they have committed that to the world, in fact, the world would be that much better if we all displayed that kind of earnestness…
They were our favourite things from October, what were yours? Let us know in the comments!
I am actually skeptical August even happened. I have the most fleeting recollections of some days that purported to be in August, but I have no certainty, such was the speed with which it passed. On the bright side of this hurtling stream of months is, of course, the impending arrival of weather conducive to art making outdoors – longer days, warmer nights and a bigger audience… But before we get to all that, let’s use all of our available resources to paint a picture of what happened in the mysterious month of August…
Jay Hutchinson @ Fiksate
We have been fans of Ōtepoti artist jay Hutchinson’s work for a while, so it was brilliant to come face to face with his hand-embroidered refuse in our favourite gallery. From a discarded Subway napkin to a greasy KFC chip box (both presented on chunks of asphalt), the jarring juxtaposition of delicate beauty and overlooked mundanity striking and alluring.
Yikes’ startled character, seemingly locked between brick pillars on Manchester Street has been a favourite for years, but a recent addition by IRONS highlighted the way pieces can become a harmonious pairing. IRONS’ painting above Yikes’ work feels entirely organic due to the green background echoing the older piece, a perfect understanding of how to seamlessly fit in…
Ikarus X YSEK
If the Yikes and IRONS juxtaposition was more a response from the latter, Ikarus and YSEK’s Sydenham collaboration was much more planned, a combination of each artists’ iconic style – the unmistakable letter forms of Ikarus and YSEK’s signature animal characters, in this case a blue-skinned lizard, all tied together with a sewer background and unified colour scheme. Chef’s kiss.
Black Panther 2 Trailer
OK, so technically it was released in July, but let’s just say I only saw it in August. The trailer for Black Panther 2 is pretty epic, adding new elements to the story and hinting at the handling of the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman. Technically it isn’t urban art related, but as someone suggested, the mural of T’Challa spotted in the trailer looks like a Retna and El Mac collaboration, which is good enough for me!
Well, that was… damp. July was very much the heart of winter, cold nights and wet days. These are not prime conditions for art making outdoors, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t plenty of opportunities to engage with some good stuff inside, in the warmth of some of our favourite galleries, hospo spots and venues. In addition, there were a few patches of that brilliant, hopeful mid-winter sun to enjoy and take advantage of with excursions out into our streets. Here are some of the things that caught our eyes, our hearts and our attention…
Pener’s Vacation From Reality @ Fiksate
A whirlwind residency by Polish artist Pener at Fiksate Gallery culminated with his stunning exhibition Vacation From Reality – a collection of vibrant, fractured, dynamic canvas works and some seriously beautiful prints. The weather may not have come to the party, but Pener definitely did, highlighting the incredible talent that has emerged in Poland over the last decade and more, and illuminating the striking trajectories of graffiti’s evolution into abstraction…
Scratch Building with Ghostcat
The wet July school holidays were a perfect opportunity for a group of local rangatahi to learn from scratch-building master Ghostcat at the incredible 4C Centre at the YMCA on Hereford Street. An amazing array of builds were created that celebrated the beauty of the urban environment…
I mean, who isn’t a sucker for the Darkest Timeline? (I could never hate lasagne though)
The Little Street Art Festival Treasure Hunt
We thought we would celebrate our successful Boost Ōtautahi campaign (thanks to all our amazing supporters!) with a little treasure hunt – two hand-stencilled signs dispersed across the city for people to find. We still don’t know who found these guys, and we think our little mascot needs a name – any ideas?
Weasels Ripped My Flesh
At the first sign of a sunny Saturday in late July, we headed to Moon Under Water in Cashmere for a quick drink with some mates (you can’t go wrong with their stonking selection) and we couldn’t help but shout out Weasels Ripped My Flesh, a collaboration APA by Moon Unit and Altitude Brewing – with some Frank Zappa inspired artwork by our pals Ghostcat and Nick Lowry!
What things kept you warm and dry through July? Let us know in the comments…
June, smack bang the middle of the year. We can see the path to spring and summer in front of us (OK, that might be optimistic, but from a strictly numerical point of view…). But the midst of winter does not mean there was nothing on – sure, the weather is a little bit more unpredictable and the mornings colder, but the tricks and treats keep coming. The last month has seen some interesting propositions and amazing opportunities, the chance to connect with a wide range of people and, of course, some awesome art…
The Little Street Art Festival Boost Ōtautahi Campaign
As you may know, Watch This Space is developing The Little Street Art Festival, a street art event with a different spin – spotlighting the smaller scale and great diversity of urban art across Ōtautahi. From small-scale paintings and stencils, to sculptural installations, craftivism and light-based work, the festival will provide a unique platform for local and Aotearoa urban creatives. But, to bring the Little Street Art Festival to life, it requires money! We undertook a Boost Ōtautahi fundraiser through June – and thanks to the generosity of our friends, whanau and networks, we raised $15,000! This is a fantastic building block for the festival – we are super excited!
JZA’s Street Signs
We have loved spotting JZA’s sneaky street sign alterations around the city. Bringing a smile to people’s faces, declarations such as ONE LOVE, ONE EARTH and more show how little interventions can provide meaningful impacts to our daily experiences.
A Quick Trip to Akaroa
I was also lucky enough to have the chance for a nice drive to Akaroa, where I presented a talk about the complexities of urban art to an enthusiastic crowd in an amazing venue, the picturesque St Pauls Church. The chance to field questions and share my passion for graffiti, street art and neo muralism with an audience keen to engage was a pleasure and ultimately stimulating. It’s funny the places you can find yourself…
Crossing Live to Australia
To add to the list of unexpected happenings in June, I was also lucky enough to meet up with Steve Jacobs and cross live to Studio 10 in Australia as the roving reporter toured the South Island. Over a lightning quick tour of some of the street art around Little High, we chatted about why urban art has been so important for the city…
Josh Bradshaw’s Things I Thought You’d Say, Or Don’t @ Absolution
It was great to finally see a new solo show from Josh Bradshaw, whose new creative direction is a far cry from his previous identity – refreshingly urban, punky and monochromatic, I’m onboard (and have been for a while). His show at Absolution was a perfect tonic for a cold winter evening, beers and chats in an intimate environment with fresh art to explore. Perfect.
What made your list for June 2022? let us know in the comments!
May is the month when you can feel winter coming, daylight savings ends, the weather becomes just that little bit more unpredictable, and t-shirts start to be accompanied by warmer layers (just in case), yet we can also ignore these signs and enjoy the final throes of Summer’s waning presence. This May, we have enjoyed a range of treats, from the streets of Ōtautahi to gallery walls in Te- Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, a beautiful secluded gem in Waltham, a haunting surprise outside one of our favourite bars and the odd geeky nightmare…
We welcomed the third artist to the Phantom bollard take-over The Paste-Up Project, with Cape of Storms adorning the circular structure with a signature blast of colourful retro collage posters. The installation, titled Foreign Objects, reflects on the adjustment to life in Aotearoa, highlighting Kiwi quirks through nostalgic compositions of food and fashion and vintage media. The appearance is easily mistaken for official poster advertising, until closer inspection reveals the acerbic humour – check it out on Manchester Street!
We’ve always known our pal Jessie Rawcliffe was super talented – now she has the certificate to prove it! Jessie’s striking portrait Richard, of Wellington tattoo artist Richard Warnock, was highly commended in the Adam Portraiture Awards at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in the capital. From 351 entries, the Adam Awards exhibition was narrowed down to 45 works, with Jessie’s painting being placed in the top 7 by judges Linda Tyler and Karl Maughan.
The Haunted Teacup
You may know about Watch This Space’s plans for The Little Street Art Festival in 2023 (if not, more to come soon!) – but did you know about Ghostcat‘s Haunted Teacup – a work created to exemplify the types of works the festival will celebrate? The worn Victorian-styled automata viewing box has been surprising viewers passing The Last Word on New Regent Street through May, drawing people in with the promise of a terrifying supernatural experience, but is it what it seems? Go and check it out… If you dare!
7 Oaks Mural
We recently had the chance to work with Life in Vacant Spaces and the amazing community at Waltham’s 7 Oaks – an incredible site where array of groups make use of a beautiful space. Together we created a participatory mural welcoming visitors to 7 Oaks, a team effort where 3 year olds and those just a little bit older all contributed to a mural that draws on the surrounding environment.
Return to the Upside Down
Last, but not least, is a shout out to my nerdy side (which is possibly 73% of me) and the long anticipated debut of season four of everyone’s favourite 80’s homage Stranger Things! I may or may not have binged all seven episodes in one night, but who is asking, really? I also may have already re-watched it and now wait impatiently for the final two episodes… Bada Bada Boom!
This edition of And That Was… was almost forgotten, such was the nature of April 2022. With March a hectic month, there was a feeling April would be quieter, but the reality was anything but relaxed. Months fly by these days, a combination of busy schedules and the constantly evolving Covid situation. April kicked off with a whirlwind trip to Tāmaki Makaurau for Ghostcat’s collaborative The Main Line exhibition at Limn Gallery, and as you might expect, a range of other adventures and encounters. On the home front, we have been launching a few new initiatives that will all become a bit clearer over the coming weeks… In the meantime, here are a few of the highlights from April!
The Main Line opening @ Limn Gallery
We boarded a flight to Auckland on the 7th of April for the opening of The Main Line, a show featuring 28 custom-built miniature trains, produced by Christchurch’s own Ghostcat, each decorated by a graffiti artist paying homage to the iconic Spacerunner carriage (artists included Dyle 52, Askew, Phat1, Berst, Morpork, Lurq, Ikarus, Dcypher, Yikes, Freak, Vents and more). The opening was packed with names from the Aotearoa graffiti scene, reminiscing over a beloved part of the local culture’s history, making for an auspicious occasion.
Street Treats in Tāmaki Makaurau
With The Main Line opening on a Friday night, the rest of the weekend was left for exploring and the chance to navigate Aotearoa’s biggest urban centre. From the Mercury Plaza to legal walls in Avondale and many spaces in between, it was a treat to stumble upon works by some real heavy hitters and discover some new forces as well. A personal highlight was stencil don Component’s beautiful ballerina in Ponsonby…
Race A2D at The Avondale Pavilion
Another highlight of the trip to Auckland was the chance to catch Race A2D painting at Te Tūtahi Auaha – The Avondale Pavilion – the process documented by the man himself Dr Berst. The Pavilion is a fantastic concept that has become a key tool in the documentation of Aotearoa’s urban art culture. I might even appear in the background of the YouTube video a few times!
Slap City Billboard Takeover
The Slap City collective keep finding amazing spots and this empty billboard is a personal favourite – it might not be as central as some of their other locations, but it has an undeniable charm, echoed in Vez’s sppon drawer and played on by teethlikescrewdriver’s massive pencil. 10/10 would visit again.
Artist Talk with Jacob Yikes @ Fiksate
Jacob Yikes’ Even in Darkness exhibition was an April highlight in itself, a bold body of work that was candid and honest while still mysterious and evocative, but the chance to sit down and discuss the process with the artist with an enthusiastic live audience at Fiksate was a perfect way to end the month. The lengthy talk was an honest insight into the artist’s practice and the influences found in Even in Darkness.
What made your list for April?Let us know in the comments… And if you have any events coming up, let us know by emailing email@example.com
This month’s And That Was… is a special edition – dedicated to the impact of the Flare Street Art Festival across March (the festival opened on the 2nd and eventually came to a close on the 20th, an extended run). Who better to break down the highlights than Flare project manager Selina Faimalo, who gamely took on the challenges of such a multi-faceted event, and headline artist and pop-up gallery curator, Kophie Su’a-Hulsbosch (aka Meep). From the amazing murals to the additional elements of tours, exhibitions, panel talks and more, Selina and Kophie break down what made Flare such a success!
The Flare Ōtautahi Street Art Festival was a conglomeration of large murals, a pop-up exhibition, graffiti art, guided tours and art talks.
The ARCC collective wanted the festival to be a collaborative event, with artists involved in the curation of the event and to incorporate traditional graffiti as well as street art. Dcypher, Ikarus and of course, Kophie, were eager to jump on board to have the most authentic festival possible. It is amazing to break down Flare by the numbers:
Flare became a 20 day festival with a total of 44 artists participating, including seven headlining artists, as well as a three-artist collaborative 3D mural and a three-artist projection installation, a ‘Wahine Takeover’ at the BOXed Quarter with four female artists, an exhibition featuring 21 urban artists, and a two-part graffiti jam with 35 artists. Flare saw the completion of 44 new artworks across the SALT District. More than 1200 visited Flare Central on High Street, with many taking home art from the pop-up exhibition, while 136 people joined the guided tours (and more just tagged along!).
Overall, we had so many wins, including Koryu taking home Kathmandu’s People’s Choice Award (voted by FLARE attendees) and the heartwarming development of Olive the cat, star of SwiftMantis’ mural, finding a home when she was adopted from the Cat’s Protection League!
In addition, these were our personal highlights…
Kophie and I are the founders of The Conscious Club and until very recently we were based at The BOXed Quarter, an amazing part of SALT District with a variety of murals by different artists.
The Wāhine Takeover was added to the programme as when we were organising the graffiti jam, it became obvious that women graffiti artists are few and far between in Ōtautahi. Kophie took the initiative of choosing four wāhine to paint at the BOXed Quarter, adding a point of difference to the area and a diverse range of new artworks. The selected artists were Jen Heads from Fiksate Gallery, Lucia Kux from Berlin, who has a background in graffiti and is a tattoo apprentice, McChesney-Kelly Adams from Lyttelton, who specializes in realism and also has a tattoo apprenticeship and Jessie Rawcliffe, who specialises in highly detailed portraiture.
The Pop-Up Exhibition
As well as being one of the headlining artists, Kophie also curated the Flare Central pop-up gallery. The exhibition was primarily a representation of Ōtautahi graffiti and street artists as well as art work from our headlining artists. The curation of the gallery was to be a homage to graffiti art as the art form that began street art and large-scale murals and adds vibrancy and culture to the city.
Offline Collective x Fiksate
Offline Collective and Fiksate Gallery merged their creative outputs, mixing the work of local artists Dr. Suits and Jen Heads with Offline Collective’s renowned animated moving images. Overlaying visuals and interrupting the usually static images of both artists in two installations, the concepts were brought to animated life in an empty High Street space.
This installation was epic, exploring the murals at night and peering through the window on High St whilst eating an ice cream from Utopia (or even a few wines deep) was mesmerizing ! It was like seeing a Jen Head hologram from 2043!
We were so lucky with our selection of walls being so close together in the SALT District that all the murals were located within five minutes walk of each other.
Watch This Space facilitating the guided tours was absolutely amazing, Reuben’s passion and knowledge about the urban art scene had attendees hooked!! It created a sense of pride for residents learning about already existing art that they once just glossed over.
The great thing is, if you missed out you can still book in guided tour with Watch This Space!
The Watch This Space: Flare Artist Panel was another highlight. One of the biggest struggles with Flare was hosting a festival in red light setting, as well as being in the peak of everyone catching COVID! (including me, LOL!), with a limit on gatherings of 100. We were so grateful to have access to equipment through WORD Christchurch to live stream this so those isolating and all across Aotearoa could tune in!
We had all our headlining artists on the panel apart from Elliot Francis Stewart and Wongi who couldn’t make it, so it was really great to hear the diverse stories; their backgrounds and their journeys to where they are now.
As the festival was extended (we had a few artists down with COVID!), we ended up having two graffiti jams!
We had 20 Artists painting at Graffiti Jam Part One and 15 artists at Graffiti Jam Part Two, and it was so much fun to get the community together to paint legally and incorporate traditional graffiti into Flare. We even had North Island heavyweight Fuego, who happened to be in town at the right time, get a piece in!
Dcypher and Ikarus had been such a huge part of helping put Flare together and they facilitated both graffiti jams. They have a mana in Ōtautahi that brought everyone together and had a great time.
Both laneways are special in their own way and walking down each one takes you on a journey of a range of styles like walking into a gallery on the streets.
We honestly couldn’t be happier with how the festival turned out. Even though we were in peak Omicron and in the red traffic light setting, it all came together through an epic community and residents supporting the arts! Fingers crossed we can do it all again next year, and actually hold the street party!
February 2022 might prove to be the calm before the storm, with several exciting events set for March. But there were still some great things that happened in those 28 days, even with the weather proving particularly temperamental! The weather has ensured a disjointed sense of summer, and coupled with the ongoing disruptions of Covid (not to mention the protests occurring across the country), it would be fair to say that February was not firing on all cylinders. With a swathe of events cancelled, the visual arts proved somewhat more durable, with projects still forging ahead, albeit under different conditions. With a palpable energy that Ōtautahi is about to reclaim it’s place as Aotearoa’s leading urban art destination, it was good to see momentum building…
The DTR Crew’s Ernest Rutherford mural
A precursor to the Flare Festival, this impressive mural along the west-facing wall of the Team Hutchinson Ford building on St Asaph Street, was designed by Jacob Yikes and produced alongside crew-mates Dcypher and Ikarus. The image shows the iconic physicist and the old university building (now the Arts Centre) while a crackling energy is depicted in atoms and currents to bring a dynamic quality.
PIM’s This was the year that was… @ The Art Hole
PIM (aka Lost Boy) produced a charming wee show at The Art Hole on St Asaph Street at the end of February. Built around a drawing for every day of 2021, the bright digital drawings (postcard sized) were filled with humour, earnestness, bewilderment, pathos and everything in between, allowing the viewer to construct and reconstruct stories as they scan the large block of images. Definitely a favourite show of 2022!
Bloom takes over The Paste-Up Project…
Bloom n Grow Gal became the second artist to take over the Watch This Space X Phantom BillstickersPaste-Up Project bollard on Manchester Street, working in between downpours to create a fresh blossoming of flowers. Drawing on a range of her familiar images, the work has also allowed for change over its life span, with new aspects added already. Following in the footsteps of teethlikescrewdrivers, Bloom’s addition continues the momentum of The Paste-Up Project…
Xoë Hall @ Te Puna O Waiwhetū
Wellington artist Xoë Hall has taken over the Te Puna O Waiwhetū Christchurch Art Gallery’s famous bunker with Kuīni of the Worlds, a bright, bold and wild mural that celebrates atua wāhine through references to figures such as Hine-tītama, Hine-nui-te-pō, and Mahuika.
Holly Zandbergen on Walker Street
We were on our way to Walker Street’s Ally & Sid cafe a week ago when we were pleasantly surprised to see a new mural work in progress. when we called back past, artist Holly Zandbergen was there, brush-in-hand and happy to chat about her work, a beautiful painterly abstract work that was both energetic and restrained, a breath of fresh air for a mural scene that often favours pristine illusions…
What did we miss? What would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments!