And That Was… September 2021 – with Cape of Storms

To recap September we caught up with Cape of Storms, our favourite street collage paster-upperer! You will know Cape’s paste-ups, even if you don’t realise it, they utilise vintage cooking books, kitsch knitting images and more retro finds to create whimsical juxtapositions that are at once funny and mysterious, adding that sense of wondrous inquisition as they appear across the city, revealing the absurdity of life. As I suspect it was for many of us, Cape of Storms’ September was hectic, catching up on a life that was put on pause… So, what was keeping Cape of Storms busy? Read on and find out…

September was a blur.  My recollection of how the month passed by is somehow not linear.  I remember key events, like feeding my best friend’s new baby girl for the first time, dressing up and going out for a special meal with my partner at Soul Quarter just after we passed into level 2.  Going back to the gym, the stress and irritation around how and when to mask up. But most of all, I remember the build-up and anticipation, coordination, ultimate execution of of MOVING HOUSE.

Moving house is awful.  It confronts you with all your life decisions and lifestyle choices and forces you to judge yourself as you pack up your life, box by box (well, at least for me anyway!).

I arrived in New Zealand just under three years ago with two suitcases full of clothes, a racing heart and a head full of dreams for my new future.  For the first few weeks I muddled by sleeping on the floor on a blow-up mattress, eating at a rusty camping table and managing the delicate balance of ice-to-water ratio in a chilly bin.

Slowly and steadily I started to accumulate stuff. Four months after relocating from Cape Town, four modest boxes arrived by sea, filled with precious kitchen and household items from my previous home.

Fast-forward to September 2021 and van- load upon van-load of stuff needs to be ferried from the old house to the new house, multiple trips to Ecodrop required, $850 raised in Facebook marketplace sales and days and days of sorting, cleaning and reorganising.

And what did I learn about myself during this process? Well, a quite a few important things actually.

Friends, and friends who have become like family are my “home” in this new country.  The physical objects I own only carry meaning for me if they are linked to how I can interact with the important people in my life, or bring me comfort and act as reminders of special memories shared with the people who are no longer physically present due to distance and time zones.  Being a bit of a clutter-bug, I was amazed at how easily I was able to get rid of things that did not meet these requirements, and how important the objects that remind me of my home country and family actually are.

My home environment has become very important to me.  This space has become my nest, my anchor which I can categorically call “my own”.  Where I can express my personality and recharge.  Taking the time to curate my space a bit better and only surround myself with things I truly need has been wonderful.  Also, realising that my space is now shared with my partner makes this even more special as we create a life together.

When my life was in limbo for a few weeks, I really craved my routine and the activities that mean the most to me, the things that create balance in my day.  For me, that was “studio”/workspace area back in order.  This move has been really great as I have now seriously upgraded my work space and I really look forward to a lot of productive time being creative on a day-to-day basis, as I’m trying to incorporate making/creating into my daily routine.  Another big one was realising how important regularly connecting with my fellow artist friends at weekly Slapcity meetups are to me.  Slapcity is a group (I won’t use the dreaded word “collective”) of like-minded artist friends with a passion for street art.  Some artists focus on sticker making, some on paper paste-ups, some on graffiti writing, some on drawing – but honestly any medium is welcomed.  We get together every Wednesday evening to chat and do a little bit of work on whatever we feel like really, usually with a beer or cold beverage in hand.

So September was for the most part spent preoccupied with the move, but by no means all that I got up to…

Danny Knight-Baré at PB & JAM

Something that’s been preoccupying me throughout September is Slapcity member Danny Knight-Baré’s stunningly intricate multi-layered screen-printed pieces I saw at the PB & Jam show in mid-August.  At first glance you would mistake the abstract colour-blocked pieces for digital prints, but once you realise that each line and dot have actually been screen-printed onto the surface, sometimes in up to 23 layers you truly realise their genius.  I could stare at those textures and colours for hours.  PB & Jam was an awesome group art and music show put together by the gorgeous Lydia Thomas (another Slapcity member!).

The return of Slapcity Wednesday nights!

Level 3 saw us getting together via Zoom calls, but a return to Level 2 meant face to face meet-ups again!  The pleasant sound of scissors snipping, vinyl cutting, the heavy smell of marker pen ink hanging in the air, good tunes playing in the background and our inane and random chatter is the definition of my happy place.  It’s a totally relaxed and free environment, and I just feel so recharged and energised after every session.  We alternate between the workspace at Fiksate Gallery and a few other locations around Christchurch central.  New members are always welcome.  Check out the Insta page for more info.

Lazy weekend brunch/lunch at Unknown Chapter

(Image from Unknown Chapter’s Facebook page)

Mine and my partner’s favourite brunch spot on St Asaph Street in the central city.  Excellent coffee and yummy fresh food (especially in the cabinet), all in all a beautifully decorated hanging plant-filled space.  The hanging plant jungle that covers the entire ceiling of the café has Millenials and Gen Zs frothing at the mouth, but looking beyond this #hashtag nirvana, the food, coffee and service is really amazing.  Our favourites are the Eggs Benedict, the Salad bowl with halloumi and the Florentines from the cabinet.

Aussie art rock and my trusty Blundies

I’ve had Twilight Driving by Methyl Ethel on repeat on a daily basis.  I just can’t get enough of Jake Well’s gender-bendingly unique voice and the haunting lyrics.  I’ve been listening to a lot of Holy Holy as well.  Coupled with the fact that I have been wearing my beloved brown Blundstone boots so much that I’ve had to introduce “rest days” for them is making me question my loyalty to this Antipodean island in favour of the other, larger, hotter one.  But then I think of those poor sods in Melbourne and happily return to sipping my flat white and dunking my ginger slice.  Also, Blundstones are actually made in Vietnam now…

Preparation for EVEN MORE THE SHOW (15-16 October)

Trawling op shops for old textiles.  Saturday morning hours lost inside the labyrinth of Creative Junk.  Clandestine printing missions at my office photocopier.  Gluing things to other things.  Figuring out how to paint and paste onto old biscuit tins and suit cases.  All in preparation for Even More The Show, opening Thursday, 14th October (and running through the 15th and 16th) at Club House Creative on Southwark Street.  Even More The Show is yet another group show organised by the charming Irish creative dynamo Lydia Thomas.  I was so stoked to be invited to take part, and it is made all the more special by the fact that proceeds made from the show will go to Youthline.  Quite a few of my local female artist friends will also be taking part, its going to be a hell of a lot of fun!

Follow Cape of Storms on Instagram and check out her work with a heap of talented local creatives in Even More The Show this week!

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Street Treats, Vol. 5

This edition of Street Treats is eclectic and varied, ranging from playful whimsy to blunt anti-establishment messaging. That ultimately is the beauty of guerrilla practice (or in the case of some of these works, permissioned but free from curatorial censorship), the opportunity to say what you want, how you want. As contemporary muralism has taken over the popular image of ‘street art’, it has also transformed the imagery and ideology deployed. While this still results in some pretty stunning works occupying our skylines and there are, admittedly, different levels of input and freedom, it is left to the smaller interventions to speak in an unfiltered voice. The content is not always explicitly political, but the act itself is, always. So whether it is a beautiful surreal flower sprouting from a concrete pillar,  a constantly recurring pencil, playfully collaged scenarios, vibrant names or scrawled messages that question the colonial history of our city, look and listen, they are speaking to you and about us…

If you have submissions for upcoming Street Treats volumes tag us on Instagram or email your pictures to hello@watchthisspace.org.nz!

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Street Treats, Vol. 4

High and low, under and above, inside and outside, protected and exposed. The city presents innumerable contrasts, all of which can provide opportunities for intrepid artists. From graffiti writers marking spaces no one else sees as useful or functional, to street artists creating moments of engagement in unexpected places, a city is always full of sites to explore and alter. From rooftops to wooden hoardings, lampposts to stop signs, revealing, playful and existential interventions can be found across and beyond our lines of sight. This diversity of locations is matched by the diversity of practice, with no material form invalid or off-limits; Chero One’s rocket ships, painted scrolls, or even hot sauce-filled buttons warning you not to do what you so urgently want to do. Always mimicking the visual culture that we come to expect, such interventions play on our tendency toward assumption. Popular culture rifs depend on your recognition of trends and eras, like digital memes, requiring some savvy understanding. Anti-advertising grasps the ubiquity and absurdity of commercial communications. Graffiti is an expected response to our dictum that success means having your photo on a billboard or the back of a bus. Ultimately, the streets are full of life, both official and unofficial, you just have to look closer and further, higher and lower, under and above, and start to sort out the relationships…

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Street Treats, Vol. 3

The concept behind the Street Treats series is to reflect the diverse expressions on the walls of the city beyond the large scale permissioned murals, reaching into the traditions of urban art culture’s roots as a subversive, rebellious and independent art movement. Of course, it gets tiresome to use terms like rebellious for an artistic culture that is thoroughly mainstream now, but it is important to remember the potential of these types of expressions as both visual messages and tactical invasions of our heavily designed environments. Commentators (often those attempting to defend the ‘art world’ by dismissing street art, as if they are actually in competition) can often charge street art with a vacuity, and as such a lack of conceptual heft and valid commentary. However, the point is as much about the manner of expression as the content – the act is the message. There are of course exceptions, explicitly political messages that favour bludgeoning bluntness over sophisticated subtlety. The reason for such a decision is another aspect of street art’s aesthetic – the audience must be commandeered – they are not arriving inside a white cube with an idea they will be confronted, but instead engaged in their daily activities, necessitating an immediacy. Of course, in this type of situation, even a lack of message can impact a viewer, by simply adding an air of uncertainty and inquisitiveness to a stroll through a city. To that end, the selections in this volume run from wide-ranging political commentaries to nostalgic popular culture references, and importantly, the intervention into our surrounding environments, making use of the spaces and fixtures that we often take for granted, revealing the potential for transformation…

Don’t forget to share your own pictures from the streets by tagging us in your social media posts with #watchthisspace or #streettreats…

 

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And That Was… October 2020

I know what you are thinking, it’s almost December, right? And you are correct (actually knowing what month it is is a reasonable feat in 2020), this edition of And That Was… is a tad late. The truth is we had a sweet guest contributor lined up, but due to unforeseen circumstances, it just didn’t happen. We are still hopeful of working with said guest, but we will keep that under our hat for now. However, what that means is a quick sidestep, a play called on the fly, a plan B, and now, here is And That Was… October 2020, with a few favourite things from a not so special contributor…  

DTR Re-Paint the Giant Cans

The giant spray cans at One Central have been under the guardianship of the DTR crew and they have regularly been refreshed by various crew members over their recent history. The recent refresh combined work by Dcypher, Ikarus and Wongi Wilson, including stylistic mash-ups and a stunning female portrait seemingly tattooed with graffiti tags and throw-ups, creating an effect evocative of the Mexican dia de los muertos

The Beths

Call me old fashioned, but I still like a live band. And in my opinion no-one is better in New Zealand music right now than The Beths. To say I was excited about their James Hay gig mid-October would be an understatement, and from the moment the stage curtain lifted, I was not disappointed, with their infectiously tight, energetic indie rock and understated charm. My night was topped off with a high-five to singer/songwriter Liz Stokes at the merch table.

Slap City Crew Get Paste-y

The last few months have seen the Slap City crew get busy across the central city, with diverse pastes appearing in busy conglomerations. The arrangement of works is always fun and revels in a sense of camaraderie. The flurry of activity from the likes of Teeth Like Screwdrivers, Vez, Cape of Storms, Bongo and more reflects the infectious energy of being part of a buzzing collective.

Dcypher, Yikes and OiYOU! Go Big!

Truth be told, I’m not sure if the massive Novotel mural was completed in October, my records are not entirely fool proof. But the massive scale of the Antarctic themed work (one of a pair by the artists with OiYOU! to celebrate the city’s role as a gateway to the Antartic) means it is a literal can’t miss and I’m sure at worst I am only a couple of days off. From the overwhelming size to the playful details, it is an impressive piece of work by some of Christchurch’s best, and I couldn’t leave it out.

Bols’ Retro Wrestlers

Let’s finish off this month’s list with a revelation of my inner geek… I grew up in the era of professional wrestling’s glory days. Not the violent, Limp Bizkit epoch of the Attitude Era as it’s known, but instead the over the top pageantry of American superheroes and bad guys of the eighties. It was a time when the concept of kayfabe (the idea that it is all real) was held firm and as a young kid, it was serious stuff. For that reason Bols’ nostalgic paste ups highlighting the dubious tropes and stereotypes of that era hit the mark, a reminder that not all childhood memories are as innocent as we might remember…

What are your thoughts on October’s highlights? Let us know in the comments… 

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Perspective: Women in Urban Art @ Fiksate Studio & Gallery

Urban art, and graffiti in particular, are viewed by many as masculine realms, physical, aggressive and competitive. But, the reality is that women have long had a vital role in the history of wall writing and street art, from subway graffiti writers like Lady Pink, to post-graffiti icons like Swoon, and leading members of the contemporary mural movement like Maya Hayuk. In Aotearoa, the female presence in urban art has also been notable, and Fiksate’s Perspective exhibition, opening on November 6th, brings together an array of artists to share their diverse experiences and reveal the myriad stories and pathways of women in urban art.

Organised by Fiksate owner Jenna Lynn Ingram (Jen_Heads), Perspective brings together established and emerging female artists from around New Zealand (and further afield), with a diverse range of practices, from typography-focussed graffiti writers to spoon-loving street artists, collagists, paste-up artists, photographers, videographers, traditional painters and mural artists. This diversity reveals the approach of Perspective, less concerned with an explicit historical narrative or thematic or stylistic similarities, the show primarily explores the scope of work of the collected artists, from Flox’s beautiful stencils to Kophie Su’a-Hulsbosch’s empowered portraits or Befaaany’s striking urban photography. In doing so, notions of the female urban artist are both celebrated and challenged.

Auckland artist Flox is one of the impressive line up included in Fiskate’s Perspective: Women in Urban Art Exhibition.

The Perspective line-up features an amazing snapshot of Aotearoa’s urban art talent, including well-known figures such as Misery, Flox, Diva, Kell Sunshine, Mica Still, Erika Pearce, Gina Kiel, Xoë Hall, Greta Menzies, Jen Heads and Fluro, as well as newer names like Mirella Moschalla, Glam, Kophie Su’a-Hulsbosch (Meep), Befaaany, Vez, Cape of Storms and Bexie Lady.

Local talent Kophie Su’a-Hulsbosch is part of the Christchurch contingent of the show.

Accompanying the exhibition will be a limited-edition risograph zine, produced by Jane Maloney of M/K Press, providing additional insights into each artist’s background and further highlighting their varied experiences, from the challenges they have faced to the different environments that have fostered their approaches and nurtured their talent. While more fluid and non-binary gender identities may render gender specific exhibitions less necessary in the future, Perspective is an important moment in Aotearoa urban art, a celebration of some amazing talent.

Spoon-making street artist Vez highlights the diversity of the Perspective line up.

Perspective opens 5:00pm, Friday November 6th at Fiksate Studio and Gallery, 165 Gloucester Street.

For more information, visit www.fiksate.com or Fiksate’s Facebook page.

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