Spotlight – A New Light…

We launched Spotlight – Urban Art Projections earlier this year, a project in collaboration with ChristchurchNZ that literally shone a light on the celebrated Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre – projecting animated works by local artists onto the building after dark.

We now proudly present the second iteration of the Spotlight project, again supported by ChristchurchNZ, this time highlighting four talented female artists from Ōtautahi. Made possible by the Hine te Hiringa – Empower Women Utilising FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Fund, this series of digital works will highlight the diverse practices of the artists, giving a new dimension to their work through scale, animation and light.

The first projection is a haunting rotation by multi-disciplinary Jessie Rawcliffe. Painstakingly creating each frame, Rawcliffe’s work is a study in craft and the understanding of movement, a new approach for the artist. The individual aspect of each image, pieced together with help from Immersive Reality’s Nicholas Keyse, heightens the recognition of each mark, the hand of the artist made evident even in the digital render. The effect is painterly and human, a quality that is also found in the portrait-based subject. The slowly-moving image transitions from a female face to a hooded red skull, an evocative juxtaposition made even more powerful by the almost emotionless expression. This figure is an archetype, allowing the audience to reflect on their own experiences, and ultimately, mortality.

With a quicker rotation of works in this series, stay tuned for the next projection. The remaining artists, River Jayden, Bloom and Jimirah Baliza will be featured in the coming weeks. To see the Spotlight works in person, head to the intersection of Colombo and Gloucester Streets after dark.

And That Was… July 2023

Living in the South Island of Aotearoa, American band The Decemberists’ song July, July was always confusing, the upbeat tempo a far cry from the rainy cold I was surrounded by. Likewise, this time of year can often feel loaded with FOMO, the Northern Hemisphere, bathed in warm weather (in some cases too warm, thanks to the effects of climate change), is hosting festivals and festive projects, t-shirts and sun hats abound. But to dream of elsewhere is to ignore the charms of our own surroundings – and to be sure, we had some great things going on – and, of course, we all know the sun is not far away! With that anticipatory feeling in mind, here are five things that we loved this July…

The Street Art Flea Market @ The Mid Winter Session

Wolfbrook Arena in Addington played host to the first ever Mid Winter Session event on July 22nd – a celebration of local – with food, drink, music and street art to the fore! The weather was perfect for staying inside and a decent crowd turned out to revel in the treats – including Watch This Space’s Street Art Flea Market – a playful compendium of local urban art goodies – prints, paintings, sculptures, clothing and more – from artists as diverse as Ghostcat, teethlikescrewdrivers, Jonny Waters, Klaudia Bartos, Dark Ballad, Bols, Nick Lowry, Kophie a.k.a Meep, Mark Catley, Smeagol, Ikarus, Dcypher, Jen_Heads, PK, Bloom, YSEK, and The Masked Artist.

Component’s Living in a Loop @ Fiksate Gallery

Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa urban art legend Component opened his first solo show in eight years, and first Ōtautahi exhibition, Living in a Loop, at Fiksate Gallery at the end of July. A wet Friday night (yes, there is a theme here) didn’t deter a healthy crowd from checking out the beautifully executed stencil works, many on alluringly distressed signs. A timely reflection on a range of social concerns, Living in a Loop displayed all of the traits that have made Component one of the most important figures in Aotearoa’s street art history.

Tīrama Mai @ Victoria Square

Tīrama Mai celebrated Matariki in Victoria Square with an array of light installations and productions, a lively way to warm up on a chilly July (there’s that theme again!). With creative uses of space and light ton tell a variety of indigenous narratives, Tīrama Mai is becoming an annual highlight of Matariki in Ōtautahi.

Jessie Rawcliffe kicks off the new Spotlight Project

We have already seen two Spotlight activations on the side of Te Pae – Christchurch Convention Centre, with Jacob Yikes and Dcypher’s work projected on the famous building, but now, local painter and illustrator Jessie Rawcliffe has kicked off a new iteration, with a celebratory focus on local female creatives! Supported by the Hine te Hiringa – Empowering Women fund and ChristchurchNZ, the next few months will see four talented wahine artists’ works projected onto Te Pae. Rawcliffe’s initial work, a haunting, painstakingly crafted rotation of a female face (with a surprise twist), is first up and you need to get down to Gloucester Street to see it for yourself…

Barbenheimer

What else could we finish on but the cinematic event of 2023! Whether you fall on the side of the iconic Mattel toy or the theoretical physicist, it truly is a pop culture moment!

These things made our July as sunny as any Northern Hemisphere summer, what would you add? Let us know in the comments!

Component’s Living in a Loop @ Fiksate Gallery, Friday, 28th July, 2023

Tāmaki Makaurau’s Component opened his first solo show in eight years, and first in Ōtautahi, at Fiksate Gallery on Friday, 28th July, giving Christchurch residents the chance to see one of Aotearoa’s most accomplished street artist’s work in the flesh. A founding member of the Cut Collective, Component has long been at the forefront of stencil art in New Zealand, his technical virtuosity matched with a social message that recognises the public status of urban art. Living in a Loop continued this direction, beautifully painted stencils on an array of found and recovered surfaces drawing on the monotony and complexities of life over the last few tumultuous years. From pandemics to migration, innocence to cynicism, Component’s work captures a sense of the now, all through a lens of an art form with a much longer lineage…

The Viral Huntress, 2023
A good crowd gathered at Fiksate Gallery for Living in a Loop
While it may have been cold outside, the good vibes warmed every up…
Desensitised to the State of War, 2023
The Liberation Equation, 2023
Hope’s Silent Echo, 2023
Digital Refuge, 2023

If you have an event or exhibition coming up – let us know by emailing hello@watchthisspace.org.nz

Spotlight – the moving image…

Watch This Space is proud to present Spotlight – Urban Art Projections, a project in collaboration with ChristchurchNZ that literally shines a light on local creative talent. Spotlight showcases a series of unique art works created by some of Ōtautahi’s best urban artists in collaboration with talented local animators, exploring new possibilities for urban creativity and adding a surprising twist to Christchurch after dark!

Making use of the prominent wall on the exterior of the Te Pae – Christchurch Convention Centre at the intersection of Colombo and Gloucester Streets, Spotlight projects the work of four Ōtautahi visual artists, their work brought to moving life by local digital artists. The animation gives each work a new lease of life; the mural-sized projections imbued with subtle, alluring movements that re-imagine the original productions. With a planned four installations, Spotlight has already platformed two works that have captivated and surprised passersby:

Jacob Yikes’ I will never know…

The Surrealist world of Jacob Yikes provided the first Spotlight installation back in May; the artist’s beguiling landscapes a fitting subject for this unique project. Animated by Nicholas Keyse from Immersive Reality, Yikes’ 2022 painting I will never know was animated with slowly unfurling tendrils and a rolling horizontal band of shimmering turquoise, creating an evocative, unsettling atmosphere and providing an invitation to explore this strange, unexpected landscape manifested on a central city wall, like a dream come to life. The softly moving pieces gently beckoned the viewer, requiring a double-take as more parts of the image were revealed to be alive with understated movement.

Yikes’ world-building has always suggested movement, here, this landscape was given life, while still retaining a sense of quietude and mystery. Occupying the Te Pae wall for a month, I will never know created an unexpected encounter for many walking past, a perfect starting point for Spotlight

Dcypher’s Welcome to the City…

The second, and current Spotlight installation is Dcypher’s illustration Welcome to the City, a work that draws on the artist’s formative experiences exploring the urban environment through graffiti and skateboarding. Enduring influences, these subcultures recognise the urban landscape, and its overlooked spaces as sites for expression, transformation, subversion, and creativity. Dcypher affirms that: “The beauty that these spaces hold as inspirational layers to be interacted with is the key message of this work. I’ve always loved the look of the raw underbelly of urban architecture, the flip side of the facade, the back alleys, the fire escapes… These spots are constantly in flux as urban subcultures expand in their complexity and reach.”

Dcypher’s adventurous environment has also been brought to life by Keyse, who utilised the artwork’s layers to craft a captivating illusion. Exploring the scene’s depth by zooming in and scanning across the composition, the viewer is guided through the maze-like terrain, Keyse explaining: “As the journey unfolded, I aimed for a thought-provoking narrative to take shape, hinting that this snapshot is merely an echo reverberating across the vast expanse beyond the immediate foreground.” The movement emphasises the exploratory element, the blue-grey tone and flashing yellow lights suggesting the distinct worlds of interior comfort and exterior adventure. Welcome to the City continues Spotlight‘s mission to activate the city…

The next installation, a work by painter and illustrator Jessie Rawcliffe will be unveiled in the coming weeks – stay tuned!

Spotlight is a collaborative project between Watch This Space and ChristchurchNZ working with a collection of local creatives – let us know about your Spotlight encounters!

And That Was… June 2023

Winter is coming… Annnddd it’s here. Just like that the dark nights got colder and the rain more persistent. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, it happens every year, but it is still somewhat jarring when it creeps up on you, seemingly out of the blue each year. Undeniably, June is a quieter month given these circumstances, but that isn’t to say there aren’t things to celebrate, whether it is little treats of street pizza (IYKYK), or treasures to be enjoyed inside the warm confines of home. This month’s And That Was… is a compilation of the things that have kept us warm and fuzzy in the grey climes…

Dcypher x Immersive Reality for the Spotlight Project

Following up from Jacob Yikes and Immersive Reality‘s first projection piece, Dcypher and Nicholas Keyse’s work, an animation of Dcypher’s Welcome to the City illustration brought a graphic, mysterious celebration of the city’s overlooked spaces to the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre wall. A roving adventure that acknowledges the way graffiti and skateboarding subcultures find possibility in the urban jungle, Welcome to the City suggests our surrounding environment is a stage for exploration…

Dr Suits X Cameron Hunt

This shot of Dr Suits‘ geometric mural at the Giant Cans space on St Asaph Street, taken by Cameron Hunt is a stunning view of a work that is not easily seen in totality. Capturing the full composition, this is evidence of the multiple profiles of artworks and the perception of our surroundings…

Boost Ōtautahi Launch @ Te Puna O Waiwhetu – Christchurch Art Gallery

We got along to Te Puna O Waiwhetu at the beginning of June to celebrate the range of projects fundraising via The Arts Foundation’s Boosted platform. A massive task, it was great to see the support and hear the pitches from those passionate about bringing projects to life – special shout out to our pal Bloom and her Ōtautahi Urban Gardener project!

TOYOTA – No Peace, People Mover

New music from electronic duo TOYOTA provided some driving rhythm (shitty pun alert) for June… Check out their new release, the four track EP No Peace, People Mover on Spotify

I Think You Should Leave Season Three

I’m going to finish with my favourite thing on television – Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave – a Netflix sketch comedy show that is all about awkward situations that escalate to insane amounts of cringe. I wasn’t sure anything would top the Sloppy Steaks/Dangerous Nights Crew (“this baby doesn’t think people can change”) and Brian’s Hat skits (“I’ve never fought for anything in my entire life. I’m fighting for this hat”) from previous seasons, but the first episode drops the Zip Line/Summer Lovin’ sketch and I know I can’t leave…

These were some of our favourite things in June, what about you? Let us know what kept you warm in July…

And That Was… May 2023

May is notable for a few things: the final fling before winter really kicks in and a celebration of a galaxy far far away. With fewer large-scale projects, this is a perfect time to explore the things that are a little bit smaller, a little more understated or in the case of one of our entries, focused on the audio rather than the visual. From bright blooms and beats to darker images, scary monsters and anime heroes, here are some of our highlights for the month of May…

Local Elements – Learning Curves EP

Local rapper and producer Local Elements released Learning Curves, his first solo EP, on May 22nd, a four track effort with the artist also producing the majority of the songs. The result of hard work and hustle, the EP’s title refers to the literal learning curves of the task, but the final result is a funky piece of head-nodding hip hop with a distinctly local flavour. Stream Learning Curves on Spotify and via Local Elements’ website…

Bright Blooms

As the days get a bit colder and the nights a bit longer, I’m thankful for the small, but bright, blooms appearing throughout the city. Ōtautahi’s urban gardener Bloom has been planting the small wooden blocks adorned with her stylised flowers across the city, often in unassuming places, places where a spot of colour and joy is most definitely needed. Keep your eyes out for Bloom’s Urban Gardener project as part of the 2023 Boosted Ōtautahi campaign – support her fundraising effort here

Dark Ballad

If Bloom’s flowers add life and colour to the darker months, the intense images of Dark Ballad are a perfect fit with the greyer skies – moody, graphic imagery that is equally alluring and unsettling. The artist’s collection of paste-ups in stark black and white are a striking contrast from the colourful walls on which they are found…

Ikarus, Dcypher and Captain Kris in New Brighton

New Brighton is a true graffiti art hot spot, with a selection of legal walls constantly refreshed with slick pieces and productions. One of the most impressive is this latest collaboration between the DTR crew’s Ikarus and Dcypher and Ōtautahi ex-pat Captain Kris – the formers’ pieces either side of the latter’s Goku character – a winning combination. Teeming with crackling energy, this Dragonball Z themed production is yet another reason to head out to the beach for some wall walking…

May the Fourth be with you…

May the Fourth is, of course, synonymous with Star Wars and here in Ōtautahi, May the Fourth means the likelihood of some fresh paste-ups by resident vintage toy enthusiast Mark Catley… This year to celebrate the galaxy that George Lucas built, Catley added some nasty looking creatures to the central city streets, including a Rancor on Hereford Street…

These were our highlights – what caught your eye? Let us know in the comments – or send your pictures to hello@watchthisspace.org.nz

And That Was… April 2023

You may have noticed it has been a while since our last And That Was… – our recent hiatus was more to do with a certain exhibition that ‘shifted’ our focus for a while, definitely not because there was nothing to report! Ōtautahi’s urban art scene has continued to thrive, maintaining it’s position as a must-see destination, both through significant events like SHIFT at Canterbury Museum, and the creations gracing the streets, both big and small. For April 2023, these were the things that mattered to us – it’s good to be back!

Farewell to SHIFT: Urban Art Takeover @ Canterbury Museum

Jessie Rawcliffe’s stunning painting for SHIFT at Canterbury Museum

It is impossible to not begin this month’s list with SHIFT at Canterbury Museum – Aotearoa’s largest ever urban art exhibition (almost 100 artists, over 4000 square metres and thousands of visitors). SHIFT closed its doors in mid-April and with it the Museum as we have known it, began its redevelopment. The vibrant burst that was SHIFT was an unbelievable farewell to an iconic institution’s current incarnation. The fit may have perhaps seemed unexpected, but it was strangely apt upon reflection, a signal of the changing nature of museum display and story-telling, and a reminder that change is refreshing. Thanks SHIFT, it was a blast!

Jacob Yikes – Escapism @ Fiksate

Jacob Yikes – Escapism at Fiksate Gallery. Photo credit: Lydia Hannah Thomas

April saw the latest offering from one of our favourite local sons – Jacob Yikes’ Escapism was a brilliant leap for an artist who had already cemented an distinctive creative pathway. Intriguing, detailed, refined and suggestive, Escapism continued Yikes’ investigation of otherworldly realms and the subconscious. Undeniably alluring, the paintings rewarded inspection and reflection…

The Spotlight project @ Te Pae

Jacob Yikes’ I will never know has a new life as part of the Spotlight project at Te Pae

Te Pae’s exterior has some new art with Spotlight, a collaboration between local artists, animators and ChristchurchNZ with Watch This Space. Highlighting the work of four local artists, starting with Jacob Yikes’ I will never know, brought to subtle life by digital animator Nicholas Keyse, Spotlight brings some new found intrigue to the city after dark. When the sun goes down, head down to Te Pae (opposite Gloucester Street) to see Yikes’ projection and stay tuned for a detailed write-up and future artist announcements!

Meep’s Two Realities

Meep’s Two Realities on Allen Street

We love Meep‘s latest work, a stirring anti-racism piece on a row of power boxes on Allen Street, is a reaction to “the lived realities of BIPOC in Aotearoa”. Responding to a harrowing experience of a close friend near the location of the painting, the beautiful painting is a reminder of the necessary conversations we still need to have to eradicate racism from our society (as Meep noted in an Instagram post, so many BIPOC hear the refrain, there’s no racism on New Zealand, despite that being far from the truth). The water line a reflection of the held hurt and trauma of those racially abused and the need to rise above to change racist attitudes… A necessary social commentary from a talented and motivated artist.

Hello Darkness… A Nighttime Tour

Rone’s Tess under lights. Photo credit: Hillary K Photography

Lastly, we were lucky enough to host a night-time tour for delegates of the New Zealand Planners Institute. Our tours traditionally benefit from the sunshine, but as we explored the city after dark it was apparent that the art in our streets shines on long after the sun goes down – from illuminating lighting to dynamic projections and more, it is a reminder that cities need people to activate their spaces, whether presence or productions. Who is keen for another after-dark tour?

These were our favourites, but what lit up your April? Let us know in the comments…

SHOWTIME! Jacob Yikes – Escapism @ Fiksate, Friday 31 March

Jacob Yikes’ latest offering, Escapism, opened at Fiksate at the end of March. Yikes has been consistently producing a coherent and yet constantly evolving body of work for the last decade, each new show adding elements and refining his methods and concerns. Escapism, a series of 8 paintings, feels like the work of an artist who is at the top of their game. The paintings, full of gestural flashes, subtle touches and haunting imagery, are alive, directing the viewer further into the realm the artist has been diligently constructing, created with an undeniable confidence. Our friend, the talented Lydia Hannah Thomas, was there on opening night to capture the crowds and the sublime body of work, enjoy!

Photo Credits: Lydia Hannah Thomas

If you have a show coming up, let us know – we would love to cover it here on SHOWTIME!

Showtime! Liminal Beings @ TyanHAUS, Friday 18 February 2023

Friday, 18th February saw the opening of the collaborative exhibition Liminal Beings – a collection of work by Jonny Waters, Dark Ballad (Joe Clark) and teethlikescrewdrivers at TyanHAUS. While the mix may not seem like an obvious one, the infusion of pop and urban culture – from Dark Ballad’s skateboard decks referencing iconic cinema (the carpet of the Overlook Hotel a particular favourite), to Waters’ remixed album cover paintings and, of course, teethlikescrewdrivers’ treasure trove of repurposed objects, from old maps to place mats, cricket bats and more, provided a sense of chaotic unity. The placement of each artists’ work interspersed rather than delineated into separate sections added to the overall effect. With aspects of typography, punky, gestural expressionism, and clean, graphic design work, Liminal Beings had something for everyone. We headed along to check it out…

Nothing like a doodle board when you are inspired…
Rather than each artist having a defined space, all three artists’ works were intermingled through the space…
teethlikescrewdrivers, 2023
teethlikescrewdrivers, The Kaikouras, 2023
Jonny Waters, Electric Warrior, 2023
Jonny Waters, London Calling, 2023
Dark Ballad, The Terminator, 2023
Dark Ballad, The Shining, 2023

If you have a show coming up, please let us know – email hello@watchthisspace.org.nz or contact us on social media @watchthisspacechch and we can share your creative goodness!

Postcard from Tāmaki Makaurau

I love Ōtautahi, but I also enjoy getting away. Admittedly, the serene greenery of Aotearoa often plays second fiddle to paint covered urban walls when it comes to my preferred haunts, so it is no surprise that my postcards generally come from our larger cities, this time, Auckland. Tāmaki Makaurau always provides a stark reminder of the differences between Aotearoa’s biggest metropolis and our own smaller city. Personally, it is the size difference that is always the most striking, traversing Christchurch can be taken for granted. Staying in different pockets of Auckland each trip means encounters with fresh pieces of street art, from Karangahape Road to Dominion Road, the central city to Avondale, there are distinct features to be found on the various streets and blocks. Our recent trip north was based in Grey Lynn, but also allowed for visits to a range of places, such as the iconic Powerstation, the Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki, the laneways of the central city and more. We thought we should share some of our favourite finds, from the monumental to the overlooked, from recognisable creatives to newfound names…

Owen Dippie’s Hine (2015) greeted us over the surrounding greenery as we arrived…
While we also caught what remains of Elliot Francis Stewart’s blue work at the beginning of Karangahape Road…
Unknown artist
Seems fair… (Unknown artist)
A Gary Silipa skull slap is always a good find
A doorway anime stencil by an unknown artist on Queen Street
Oscar Low’s unmistakable style on display in the central city
Not sure if this is for or against… Perfect placement at a bus stop though…
I couldn’t help but include this JACY tag
Haus of Flox and Eyes on Fire gallery feature work by Flox and Sweats at the entrance…
Where do you start? It’s a thing of beauty…
A slick Cut Collective piece in Ponsonby
A weathered Levi Hawken BLM concrete piece was a nice find too
Ronnie van Hout’s Boy Walking looked pretty cool at night as we passed Potter’s Park
Paul X Walsh’s Edie let’s you know where you are…
I’d agree, I love some tofu…
Drips are always a winner in my book…

Do you have any favourite pieces of Auckland street art? Share your photos on our social media!