And That Was… April 2024

April is that strange period when Daylight Savings ends and yet there is still a late afternoon glow that makes you realise that we are not yet fully ensconced in Winter. There is an optimism found in that glow, one that masks the panic that often sets in when you click that we are a third of the way through the year. I guess April feels like a lovely, calm swansong. And importantly, the longer nights, before it gets too cold, allow for a bit more creative activity, whether outside or in the studio (depending on your personal preferences) – the grandeur of Summer and large-scale murals replaced with a smaller sense of possibility. What did we love in April? Read on and find out…

Dove @ The Climate Action Campus

There is some real action taking place at the Avonside site of the Climate Action Campus, with the A-Maze-Ink art trail allowing artists the opportunity to brighten the walls with artwork that illuminates the campus kaupapa. One of our favourites is Dove‘s striking painting of a tauhou and korimako against a busy background – an example of the artist’s smooth style, the work is at once calming and energetic.

Freshly Wet Paste-Ups

We love seeing a flurry of activity on the streets, so the recent installation of a series of large paste-up works across the city by Dark Ballad and Klaudia Bartos gave us a real shot in the arm. From the nightmarish darkness of Dark Ballad’s wood-block works to the twisted visages of Klaudia’s characters, the stark black and white works are just delightful… ly disarming.

Alfa and Teknq in New Brighton

Clearly visible as I drive home, I have loved watching this collab between TEKNQ and ALFA come together – even if it has proven a distraction from attentive driving. The fiery colour palette of the pieces, accompanied by the Skull Kid character from the Legend of Zelda – Majora’s Mask game, add an ominous quality but also perfectly play off the existing wall and building’s qualities.

Vice Australia X Meep

We can’t reveal too much as the video is still in post-production, but we had a blast hanging out with local superstar Kophie a.k.a Meep and the crew from Vice Australia as they explored Ōtautahi Christchurch’s varied offerings – spanning our city’s eats, treats and streets! Stay tuned for the end product…

Shōgun

As the weather becomes perfect for spending time indoors, it is a good chance to share what we have been watching – and nothing has been as good as Shōgun on Disney+! Based on the 1975 novel by James Clavell, the series explores the political machinations of 17th Century Japan. Centred on Yoshii Toranaga, John Blackthorne, Lady Mariko and the charismatic Yabushige, the show revels in the delicious details and the subterfuge of “men talking in rooms” (thanks House of R podcast). After one episode, we were hooked and a binge followed – dive in!

These were our picks, what caught your eye in April? Let us know in the comments…

Street Treats, Vol. 9

Ōtautahi is changing. This might sound obvious for a city that has literally faced a massive rebuild – of course it is changing. But, the change that feels most prevalent right now reflects a greater sense of control and order – the spaces of opportunity are dissipating, filling with shiny new buildings. Of course, this is inevitable, we like shiny things, generally. But it changes the way we think about possibility. New things are to be preserved and maintained, we seek the liminal spaces for exploration. This change makes Street Treats even more important – recognising the way street art adapts to new environments and responds to prevailing landscapes. Street art reminds us that there are alternatives, that there are comments, that there are possibilities. The streets speak…

Want to contribute to the next Street Treats volume? Email us your flicks at hello@watchthisspace.org.nz…

And That Was… March 2024

March is often a final flurry of activity before the weather slowly changes, sunlight lessens and opportunities for public projects get a little bit harder and people start to prefer the warnth and shelter of studios and indoor spaces. Despite this, we found a lot to like out there in Ōtautahi over the month of March and now it is our pleasure to share our finds! From small pleasures to collaborative productions and even an exhibition or two, here are some our favourite things…

A Tribute to Hamish Kilgour

I Go Side On at the Pūmanawa Gallery at The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora provided a beautiful and poignant tribute to the life and art of Hamish Kilgour – one of Aotearoa’s most beloved musical figures (he founded The Clean alongside his brother David). The show, created by Paul Kean and Alec Bathgate, collected a range of works, including paintings, drawings, doodles and ephemera, all accompanied by recollections of encounters with Kilgour. The urgent creative drive and earnest personal narratives combined for a touching experience.

Riccarton Jam

The popular trackside spot on Riccarton Road received a freshen up with a jam by some of the city’s most respected graffiti artists past and present, including Ikarus, Lurq, Morks, Dcypher, Pest5, Post, Drows and Foul. With a few flashes of nostalgia (CatDog anyone?) and a heap of history, the wall is a testament to Christchurch graffiti…

Youth Art at the Climate Campus

The Climate Action Campus, located on the old Avonside Girls High School site, is quickly amassing a heap of striking art on its walls – from the Amaze-Ink project initiated by the Christchurch City Council’s Graffiti Projects Team, to a small collection of works by students – all with a focus on climate action. We have been lucky enough to help with the latter, and with support from Phantom Billstickers, we loved seeing the work “Stop Fish Fashion”, by Emily Brickwood, come to life!

STOKED – The Duke Festival of Surfing Art Exhibition

New Brighton’s annual Duke Festival of Surfing hosted STOKED – its companion art exhibition in March and some of our favourite artists were in on the action – including teethlikescrewdrivers, Dove, Nick Lowry, Dark Ballad and Bloom. With a variety of styles and good vibes, it was well worth the visit!

A Little Fix Up…

Ikarus’ Wish You Were Here, the lightbox installation for The Little Street Art Festival was given a spruce up in late March, thanks to a generous festival supporter, who kindly donated the replacement perspex frontage. Ultimately, these works are temporary, but it is always so touching that people want to help give them just a bit of a longer life – thank you!

These were our picks – what would you add? Let us know in the comments! And if you want to let us know about events or projects that we can spotlight on our blog – email us at hello@watchthisspace.org.nz!

The Little Street Art Festival – A Little Recap

After several years of developing, planning and piecing together the logistics, Watch This Space was proud to finally bring the Little Street Art Festival to life in Otautahi Christchurch in late 2023!

The festival was conceived as a platform for alternative approaches to street art, especially smaller scale and materially diverse practices. As such, serves as a point of difference from established mural festivals and provides artists who either don’t fit the profile of large-scale muralism or want to push to new directions with their work. For the inaugural festival, we gathered nine local creatives, a mixture of established names and newer artists and helped them take their work to the streets – Jacob Yikes, Ghostcat, Ikarus, Jessie Rawcliffe, Bloom, Dark Ballad, teethlikescrewdrivers, Nathan Ingram and Kophie a.k.a Meep, all contributing whimsical, meaningful and striking pieces. The installations ranged from paintings to sculptural pieces, interactive and participatory approaches and ephemeral interventions. With over 50 individuals pieces scattered throughout the city, the festival encouraged exploration and new ways of looking. In addition to the featured artworks, the festival also presented a programme of free events, including walking tours, an artist panel discussion, treasure hunts, workshops and activations (including Tink’s installation at festival sponsor Westfield Riccarton). We were blown away with the response to the festival and we can’t wait to bring the Little Street Art Festival back soon! For more information, check out our website: https://www.littlestreetartfestival.co.nz/ – but for now – check out some of our favourite pictures captured by festival photographer Centuri Chan

Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jessie Rawcliffe
Jessie Rawcliffe
Jessie Rawcliffe
Jessie Rawcliffe
Jessie Rawcliffe
Jessie Rawcliffe
Jessie Rawcliffe
Jessie Rawcliffe
Jessie Rawcliffe
Jessie Rawcliffe
Bloom
Bloom
Bloom
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Jacob Yikes & Ghostcat
Kophie a.k.a. Meep
Kophie a.k.a. Meep
Kophie a.k.a. Meep
Kophie a.k.a. Meep
Kophie a.k.a. Meep
Ikarus
Ikarus
Ikarus
Ikarus
Dark Ballad
Dark Ballad
Dark Ballad
Dark Ballad
Dark Ballad
Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram

A massive thank you our sponsors: Westfield Riccarton, Antony & Mates, Phantom Billstickers, Christchurch City Council, Toi Otautahi, Creative Communities and all our Boosted donors!

And That Was… November 2023

OK, so this is a little late – OK, so this is a lot late. Sorry, but better late than never, right? Right? Anyway, let’s just ignore the tardiness and get on with it, because, there was plenty to enjoy throughout November – headlined by our very own Little Street Art Festival finally coming to life (what did we say about better being late than never?) alongside a slew of other favourites… What did we love? Read on and find out…

The Little Street Art Festival

After several years of planning, we were as proud as punch to finally bring The Little Street Art Festival to life in late November! A celebration of the powerful potential of smaller-scaled street art and it’s material diversity, the festival featured eight projects by nine local artists spread across the central city – from paintings to sculptures and even interactive treasure hunts. Additionally, we hosted guided tours, an artist panel, workshops and activations – thank you to all who took part and supported this event – we look forward to seeing how far we can take this unique concept and we are already looking forward to 2024! For more information, visit littlestreetartfestival.co.nz. [Photo credit: Centuri Chan]

Shadows Surgeon’s Cutting Up The Dark

We were lucky enough to be in the audience for the premiere of Shadows Surgeon’s incredible documentary Cutting Up The Dark at Wigram’s Silky Otter Cinema – surrounded by a who’s who of local graffiti artists, many featured in the film. A roving exploration of graffiti across Te Waipounamu, from abandoned hot spots to fresh productions captured in action, the film reflects the director’s stunning photography and willingness to explore – an amazing watch that re-frames our beautiful motu! Visit https://www.cuttingupthedark.com/ for streaming options!

Clones – A Show by Klaudia Bartos and Friends

Friday November 3rd saw the opening of Clones, a collaborative show created by Klaudia Bartos at Masked Artist Gallery in the Boxed Quarter. Taking her small clay face sculptures as the grounding for a collection of her friends to create new forms, the show was based around ‘clones’ of Bartos’ original pieces. A line up of diverse talents, the creations were striking, intriguing, humorous, clever and heartfelt. We were especially fond of Jessie Rawcliffe’s red skull piece, but so was someone else, who snapped it up straight away…

Dcypher’s Cybernetic City

Fittingly painted at the St Asaph Street entrance to Cotters Lane, where his nostalgic Kodak mural resides, Dcypher’s recent futuristic production is a clear contrast to the more historically-minded sepia work with a cybernetic vision of our entangled existence with digital technology. Deploying blues and pinks to highlight the neon effect, the work is yet another example of the talent of an aerosol master…

KURUPT Cleans Up The City

We loved these stencils popping up around the city, a playful poke at the buff and ‘cleaning up’ the city. Simple and clearly a celebration of the traditions of stencil art, the repeated piece also remembers that a sense of humour has always been a key component of post-graffiti street art’s commentary.

So, these were our favourites from November – what about you? Feel free to take a while to think it over, just like we did!

Spotlight – Jen_Heads sparkles…

The latest projection in our Spotlight series is a truly mesmerising addition – a rotation of fiery, glowing and ruminative icons by local artist Jen_Heads, brought to energetic life by Sam Emerson from Offline Collective. Jenna Ingram’s Jen_Heads have become a recurring form in her work, appearing on canvas, paper, and walls, now given life through the Spotlight collaboration.

The dazzling Jen_Heads animation embodies the profound connection between humanity and the natural
world. The work is a fresh imagining of Ingram’s titular urban icon, a form of endless possibility. The animation evolves through four stages, as the artist explains: “the initial two heads symbolize the essence of human nature with the heads pulsing like a heartbeat, seamlessly transitioning into our harmonious integration with the natural world, as depicted in the flora and fauna heads.” The shift from energetic flames of purple to serene green provides a sense of relieving calm, reward for a more attuned
relationship with the organic environment. Ingram continues: “the concluding pair of heads
signifies the spiritual dimension of our existence, reflecting our deep-rooted ties to ancient
wisdom and ancestral heritage. This artistic representation underscores the fundamental unity
that binds us all together.” Standing in front of the evolving animation, one is struck by the sense of humanity and elemental connections.

Ōtautahi artist Jenna Lynn Ingram, also known as Jen_Heads, holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from
the University of Canterbury, where her interest in the urban landscape as a site of influence
blossomed. In the wake of the Christchurch Earthquakes, her work shifted to the streets, a
transition that led her to form Aotearoa’s leading urban art gallery Fiksate Gallery. Ingram’s work
has been exhibited and collected throughout Aotearoa and she has been featured in festivals
and exhibitions such as Spectrum (2014) and SHIFT: Urban Art Takeover (2023).

Offline Collective is a visual creative agency based in Ōtautahi, Aotearoa.
Offline is engaged in a range of creative endeavours, constantly exploring new possibilities
through the lens of technology. Offline Collective’s work ranges from live touring visuals and art
installations, to graphic and motion design, combining diverse creative fields to unlock new
ideas.

Spotlight – Urban Art Projections is a collaboration between Watch This Space and ChristchurchNZ, providing a fresh approach to urban creativity for talented local artists. Connecting visual artists with digital creatives, Spotlight explores the potential of projection works, illuminating the exterior of Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.

Street Treats, Vol. 8

It has been a while since our last Street Treats volume (sorry about that, we’ve had a bit on…), but that means we have a pretty decent archive of the smaller things that make our city streets exciting – so we look forward to a slew of volumes coming thick and fast over the next few months! We think it is vital that the small details are given a platform, not least as we get closer and closer to the launch of our first ever Little Street Art Festival in November. It is the smaller things, the more subversive things, the thoughtful things and the rebellious things that make a city come to life. These things serve as a barometer of the multitude of voices surrounding us, not the authorised and endorsed, but the dissenting and adventurous. This is the driving energy of these Street Treats series, the desire to celebrate the full spectrum of urban art’s creative impulses. So we are proud to present this series of works, straight from our city to you…

This volume features work from Irons, KP, Dove, Tepid, bz.streetart, The Losers, Bloom, Bols, Astro, Dark Ballad, Klaudia, HonHonn, and tributes to DSOLV.

Spotlight 2.0 – Bloom’s Wall of Blooms

The third work presented as part of the Spotlight project went live on the last day of August – urban gardener Bloom‘s Wall of Blooms another beautiful addition to the series. Multi-disciplinary artist, designer, curator and all-round powerhouse Bloom’s urban flowers have appeared in a variety of sizes, forms and locations across the city for several years now, from small drawings, paste-ups and painted wooden blocks, to the Paste-Up Project bollard and the recent production of a large mural at QB Studios on St Asaph Street. Wall of Blooms adds another incarnation of the artist’s work to Ōtautahi’s streets, the animated digital illustration a truly mesmerising apparition on the side of Te Pae – Christchurch Convention Centre.

The white line illustration, once again animated by digital artist Nicholas Keyse from Immersive Reality, comes to life on the wall, growing and blooming in front of the viewer, before gently swaying and evenutally receding, playing out a full life cycle. Inspired by the urban gardeners of Ōtautahi and the beauty of nature, Wall of Blooms reflects our ever-changing cityscape and the determination of nature
amidst the concrete, instilling a sense of wonder and appreciation for life’s precious
moments. The subtle movement suggests liveliness and the endurance of nature, thriving in an environment constructed to deny its existence. These blooms, huge in scale, are testament to persistence. The grouping also suggests ideas of community and our own ability to thrive through our networks of support.

Wall of Blooms invites us to pause and to observe the flowers’ growth, fostering a connection
with nature and celebrating the simple yet stunning elements of life that surround us every day. A
poignant reminder of the resilience and beauty found in unexpected places, Wall of Blooms
prompts us to cherish the present while encouraging collective efforts to support nature’s
growth and, by extension, our own ability to flourish, to find strength and joy within ourselves. Simple things really are the most powerful.

Spotlight – Urban Art Projections is proudly presented by Watch This Space and ChristchurchNZ.
Spotlight 2.0 specifically shines a light on the diverse work of four talented female Ōtautahi artists – exploring new possibilities for urban creativity and adding a surprising twist to the city after dark! The Spotlight project was completed with support from the Hine te Hiringa – Empower Women Utilising FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Fund to help celebrate and empower women.

And That Was… August 2023

I’ve never really trusted August as a month. I know, it sounds silly, but its a tricky month. It is at the end of Winter and is cold and wet (more other than not), which means a constant struggle with not being able to wear t-shirts more consistently. And it’s place in the calendar means you can only reflect on how much of the year has passed you by. It isn’t helped by the imposter syndrome – you know, being a renamed month in the Gregorian calendar and all… I guess I’m just skeptical. Luckily, there have been some cool happenings, discoveries and teases this August to supersede this lingering distrust and warm my apparently cold heart just enough to be ready for the arrival of Spring and the goodness I’m sure we will find in the coming weeks and months… So, here’s what we loved last month…

Jessie Rawcliffe’s Spotlight Projection

Not the last mention of the Spotlight project in this list, but Jessie Rawcliffe‘s haunting animated image was a perfect start to the new iteration of the projection series. The rotating image (each frame individually rendered by the artist) alternated between a strong female portrait and a hooded red skull – an evocative contrast that illuminated Rawcliffe’s exquisite illustrative talent.

Ghostcat’s Leave No Trace Trail

Ghostcat‘s Ghosts on Every Corner project will encompass a range of elements: an exhibition, a book, and a public art trail. The first installation of the latter went up in August, a tribute to a true Lyttelton icon. On the corner of London Street, the small red and yellow frontage of the famous Volcano Cafe is strapped to a lamppost, just metres from the home of now fallen building. A loving memorial, this is just the first of a series of works that will pay homage to the places and spaces that made Ōtautahi Christchurch, well, Ōtautahi Christchurch…

River Jayden’s Te Tihi o Kahukura for the Spotlight Series

The second work from the Spotlight series to appear in August was River Jayden‘s stunning Te Tihi o Kahukura – a contemporary piece of toi Māori, brightly coloured and alive with subtle movement. The animation appeared like water, shimmering on the wall of Te Pae and, just like its namesake Kahukura, bringing light, colour and beauty to its surroundings.

Rock Art in the Hurunui

We were lucky enough to visit a site of Māori rock art in the Hurunui District in August. A fascinating collection of iconography (apparently painted over in emulsifying paint in the early twentieth-century), it shows the long lineage of decorating our physical spaces in acts of communication, of expression and of existence. Found on private land, the rock art is not readily accessible, but is an important piece of history.

TMD x CCC

Talk about an iconic collaboration – in August we found out about this project bringing together legendary New Zealand clothing brand Canterbury Clothing Company (CCC) and urban art heavyweights, Tāmaki Makaurau crew TMD. The tough Terrain range is perfect for the urban adventurer and the upcoming collab is sure to be fire! (Image from https://www.canterburynz.com.au/terrain-i454)

That’s the list of our favourite things from August 2023 – what were some of your highlights? Let us know!

Spotlight 2.0 – River Jayden’s Te Tihi o Kahukura

The second work of our Spotlight 2.0 series is now live and illuminating the exterior of Te Pae – Christchurch Convention Centre with vibrant light and alluring movement. Artist River Jayden‘s stunning Te Tihi o Kahukura showcases the beauty of toi Māori, while adding a bright contemporary twist. Jayden explains that ‘Te Tihi o Kahukura’ translates to ‘The Citadel of Kahukura’ or the pinnacle of the rainbow. In te reo Māori, Kahukura is one of the names given for a rainbow, and it is said, specifically the arch of a rainbow. Te Tihi o Kahukura is also the first name of Castle Rock, the famous outcrop on
Summit Road. Kahukura, a spirit guardian, is an important figure in the Kāi Tahu (Ngāi Tahu) creation
story. To Kāi Tahu, Kahukura is an atua (god) and the decorator of the whenua (land), bringing
light, colour and beauty to all surroundings. Jayden’s work acknowledges Kāi Tahu as mana
whenua, while emphasizing the importance of Kāi Tahu oral traditions and Mātauranga Māori
(Māori knowledge). Drawing on traditional design elements and employing strong line work, the bold use of colour, essentially neon-like, adds a contemporary flair. Nicholas Keyse’s slow, understated animation, including a blinking eye and fluid movement, imbues Jayden’s work with a calm, yet fascinating quality, drawing the viewer in. Te Tihi o Kahukura is visible from distance, a beacon calling forth and reflecting our region’s history, beauty and future.

River Jayden (Ngāti Tahu – Ngāti Whaoa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa & Ngāti Maaniapoto) is a painter
and graphic designer who uses traditional Māori toi (art) and design within a contemporary
context. Te Tihi o Kahukura was developed with support from digital artist Nicholas Keyse, founder of Immersive Reality Ltd.

Spotlight 2.0 shines a light on four talented female Ōtautahi artists, giving their work a new platform, projecting animated pieces on the exterior of Te Pae. With a diverse range of artists, displaying unique visual and thematic interests, Spotlight 2.0 illuminates our powerful creative communities and raises new possibilities in the cityscape. Spotlight 2.0 is supported by ChristchurchNZ and the Hine te Hiringa – Empower Women Utilising FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Fund to help celebrate and empower
women.