Jacob Yikes – Even in Darkness @ Fiksate Gallery

We were lucky enough to visit Jacob Yikes in advance of his new show, Even in Darkness, opening at Fiksate Gallery on April 1st, 2022. We talked about the inspiration and genesis of the show; a body of work begun in the first nationwide lockdown of 2020. Rather than an interview, we were inspired to write about the show and the questions that arise from a deeply personal yet incredibly complex and psychological series of paintings… 

The paintings of Even in Darkness are not easy to grasp. They are mysterious, evocative, and unsettling. They are filled with complexities. They are chaotic and dizzying while eerily still and quiet. They feel deeply personal and somehow universal and ultimately, not of this world. They are confident and assured, and yet they give little away, meaning must be teased out. There are familiar, recognisable elements, but the wider scenarios, and the juxtaposition of the disparate parts, proves beguiling and elusive. They reach for something unknown; they require surrender.

A Temple Full of Chemicals, mixed media on hardboard, 2022

Yet this dilemma is not solely faced by the audience. The artist has navigated a darkened path through the genesis of these paintings, at times guided by an unseen hand, understanding only the need for the paintings to emerge. Even in Darkness represents the artist’s journey, not answers.

Even in Darkness is a direct result of Yikes’ experimentation with the spiritual and medicinal potential of psychedelics. Researching the use of plant-based medicines, Yikes explored strong doses of mushrooms as a way to unlock experiences and in particular to question his own understanding of ego, consciousness and reality. In a darkened bedroom, Yikes underwent a life-changing experience, communing with other-worldly forms. The intense experimentation allowed Yikes to break himself down and piece everything back together; a new, clean version of himself reborn in the aftermath.

Drag ‘Em Between Worlds, mixed media on hardboard, 2022

Powered by an energy beyond himself, painting became the process for Yikes to attempt to explore and decipher these essentially indescribable experiences. Painted through intuition and feeling rather than deep, focused thought, the paintings have guided Yikes, speaking to him and telling him when to work and when to step away, the artist willingly surrendering control.

Each painting in Even in Darkness has undergone the same process, beginning with the painstaking preparation of a pristine, smooth surface, layers of sanded gesso and paint creating a tabula rasa from which the image to spring forth. The blank slate a microcosm of the artist’s internal journey. With the artist working on multiple pieces simultaneously, each painting began to take shape, elements constantly built upon each other. There is a greater sense of spontaneity and fluidity in these works, an instability that suggests that these images are actively seeking form, attempting to piece themselves together, stewing, pulsing, growing and changing. This quality is evident in the lack of defined line work, the impulsive qualities of the materials and their application left to breathe and form, like smoke.

Even in Darkness, mixed media on hardboard, 2022

While less interested in representation, there are still recognizable elements across the paintings. In A Temple Full of Chemicals, a rooster serves to evoke ego, while in Death Came to Dinner, a black raven signifies death, both speaking to Yikes’ own experience of ego death. Grotesque faces and hands and beams of celestial light reaching across and through the scenes highlight the ethereal presence felt by the artist throughout his experience. Yet, other elements merely hint at something familiar; architectural and organic forms (notably mushrooms, the conduit that unlocked the artist’s access to these strange realms) amidst strange terrains provide a tether between the known and the unknowable. Similarly, the horizontal strips that occur across the works serve as a grounding device between this world and the domains beyond.

These paintings are challenging. They represent a challenge willingly taken on by an artist constantly pushing himself, both creatively and experientially. While they capture something beyond explanation, these paintings are also inviting. So, step into them, gaze deeply and explore, because even in darkness, there is light to be known.

Even in Darkness runs from April 1st, 2022 to April 30th, 2022 at Fiksate Gallery, 54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham

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And that Was… December 2021

December was kind of like a microcosm of the year 2021 – lots of uncertainty and doubt, but still enough to keep us occupied and perhaps an optimism underlined by the hard-earned resilience of the last 24 months. This month’s And That Was… is a little shorter than normal, largely because we put together the whopper 2021 recap and co-ordinating that many responses is hard work! But that doesn’t mean we should not acknowledge some of the cool stuff we saw and did in December 2021, the sign-off to a year that was… unforgettable?

BOXed Quarter additions…

Nick Lowry’s massive Eel and Bone piece is one of a collection of new works at the BOXed Quarter to sign off 2021

New work at the BOXed Quarter added to the already impressive collection, with new pieces by teethlikescrewdrivers, Bols and Bloom n Grow Gal, as well as a massive, three-panel high production by Nick Lowry, a new, neon-tinged landmark for Madras Street traffic…

Stitch-o-Mat Bouquet in New Brighton

We loved finding these beautiful cross-stitched floral arrangements in New Brighton, weaved through a netting board, they are beguiling, intricate, and ramshackle – the perfect combination…

ZZAN

The Watch This Space team enjoys the food and atmosphere of ZZAN!

ZZAN Korean Fried Chicken on Manchester Street is not only great because it has huge servings of good food – it also has the coolest decor in the city – the graffiti aesthetic is so good Watch This Space had to have our Xmas gathering there!

New TOGO works at Fiksate

Wellington based artist and adventurer TOGO is a definite favourite here – from his daring graffiti that breaks expectations around style and aesthetics, to his incredible, but often less visible studio and gallery work – so we loved seeing some new pieces at Fiksate – continuing his experimental techniques to create abstract works that draw on urban chaos and chance, they are simultaneously elegant and energetic.

It’s not about the gifts…

Some of the new books the author compiled throughout December. Now it is time to find the opportunity to read them!

December is both my birthday month and Christmas, and while I know its about the time spent with loved ones, it is also nice to know my collection of art books is always likely to grow come the last month of the year – and 2021 was a fine example, with new reads now piled high on my dresser!

And That Was… December 2021 and 2021 wrapped! Join us in 2022 for more lists, interviews and articles – and let us know what and who you would like to see featured in our online content this year!

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And That Was… November 2021

Personally, the arts have provided a feeling of comfort throughout the challenges of 2020 and 2021, but November 2021 was a reminder of the struggle faced by the arts, not just in the midst of the Covid pandemic and all of it’s associated barriers, but more generally, the stark reality of the need to scratch and claw to survive. Many events and projects are produced on a shoestring budget and the realities of life as a creative are sobering, many balancing other careers and making time by burning the proverbial candle. Watching an Arts Foundation panel discussion featuring some of Aotearoa’s most renowned artists brought this reality into clear sight, sharpened and tempered by the determination of those from our community to continue to stage events and the audiences that provide support. So while the art life is hard, requiring a seismic shift in how we instill new attitudes towards the arts nationally, it is always so warming to know that the arts community is nothing if not durable and determined. November was a case in point, plenty of highs and unfortunately some lows, but all underlined by a sense of the need to keep on keeping on…

Chimp – Social Woes @ Fiksate

Wellington artist Chimp returned to Ōtautahi Christchurch and to Fiksate Gallery with Social Woes in November, with a body of work exploring the impact of social media on our state of mind and social networks and behaviour. Pushing his work towards increasingly fragmented compositions, Chimp has made some bold progressions stylistically while grappling with very contemporary issues…

Chimp finally got the chance to relax after a busy opening at Fiksate for his show Social Woes

Berlin Wall – Community Event @ Rauora Park

The installation of the Berlin Wall segments in Rauora Park in late 2019 was completed with relatively little publicity, many unaware of the historical significance of the concrete forms that appeared like painted monoliths from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In response, a collective of German expats, led by the amazing Alex Falk and Deutsch in Christchurch, staged Kia Ora Berlin, an event celebrating and exploring the history of the Wall’s deconstruction. Following an official ceremonial portion, the crowd were let loose on a scale wall produced by local artist Nick Lowry, with hoards of kids getting wild with spray paint, brushes and pens. The swell of activity lasted for an hour, until all the supplies were exhausted, a reminder of the power, and attraction of writing on walls, a reality heightened by the displayed photographs of the real wall on display nearby.

Nick Lowry’s Berlin Wall replica is painted by guests at the Kia Ora Berlin event

Farewell to The Giant Cans

Not far from the Rauora Park location of the Berlin Wall event, the Giant Cans at the Place Making at One Central site were enjoying a last hurrah, with a graffiti art workshop led by the DTR crew. A unique and participatory urban element, the Cans have hosted hundreds (if not thousands) of visitors, and literally layers of paintings, messages and scrawlings, since their installation in 2018. Now deconstructed, the cans are seeking a new home. Fingers crossed these iconic forms, originally created for the Spectrum Festivals at the YMCA, can return soon…

The Giant Cans begin their deconstruction from the Place Making at One Central…

Daken’s Emporium @ 413 Local

Although I didn’t make it along to opening night of Daken’s Emporium, I was glad I headed down to 413 Local on Tuam Street to check out the impressive output of customised toys and other goodies, from Daken and several guest contributors. Charming in their lo-fi DIY nature, it was packed with nerdy, playful and earnest references to films, comics and cartoons (most definitely after my own heart)…

A small selection of the creations on display for Daken’s Emporium

Arts Foundation State of the Arts Panel

The only event not to occur in Christchurch to make the list this month, the Arts Foundation‘s State of the Arts Panel was live-streamed late November and featured the impressive line-up of Dr Fiona Pardington, Shayne Carter, Oscar Kightley, Simon O’Neill and Moana Ete. Moderated by Miriama Kamo, the panel reflected on the state of the arts in Aotearoa in 2021. A lively and passionate discussion, it raised the striking reality that the arts, and artists, remain under-funded and under-valued. While the panel made clear the challenges, the passion of the speakers vitally reflected the need for collectivism, for digging in and for fighting for the cause…

What did we miss? Let us know what you would have added to this month’s list and stay tuned for more And That Was… entries in the coming months

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Showtime!

The first Friday of November proved a popular night for exhibition openings with three shows celebrating openings at the same time! The sun was shining into the evening, making it a great chance to enjoy a social(ly distanced) occasion and, of course, the art of talented locals and a popular visitor from the capital. At Fiksate, Wellington artist Chimp returned to Christchurch for his new solo offering Social Woes, an investigation of the impact of social media on our contemporary existence, while over at 413 Local Gallery on Tuam Street, Daken presented Daken’s Emporium, a selection of his customised toys and comics (along with some special guest contributors), and at the Boxed Quarter, the talented team from everyone’s favourite art supplies store Gordon Harris hosted In the Hours After, a group show featuring multi-disciplinary work from Peter Pinckney, Carrie Dingwall, Klaudia Bartos, Bebe James, Olivia Isabel Smith, Louann Sidon, Theresa Waugh, Seonaid Burnie and Al Joice.

It was pretty tricky to make it around all three shows, and while some were impressively able to manage the logistical challenge, for many others, it was a case of picking one. So, for those of you who didn’t manage to get to all of these shows, this is for you!

Chimp – Social Woes @ Fiksate Gallery, Friday 5th November (until November 27th)

Fiksate was looking pretty spiffy to mark the opening of Social Woes…
While outside, the crowd enjoyed the sunshine in a makeshift outdoor area (Photo credit: Fiksate Gallery)
Chimp, the man of the hour, eventually got the chance to relax after a busy opening evening, here with his work Mental Weight (mixed media on board, 2021)…
Birds of a Feather (mixed media on board, 2021) highlighted some of the stylistic progressions in Chimp’s latest work…
As did Eyelash Wings (Acrylic, digital print and aerosol on panel, 2021)
Social Woes runs until November 27th at Fiksate, 54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham

Daken – Daken’s Emporium @ 413 Local Gallery, Friday 5th November (Until November 10th)

Over at 413 Local Gallery on Tuam Street, the space became an imaginarium of Daken’s playful custom toys… (Photo credit: Daken)
Including a replica of the artist’s workspace (Photo credit: Daken)
There were his Dak Bird cut outs and the Hands of Film series… (Photo credit: Daken)
And custom cereal boxes (packed with goodies), zines (A Dog’s Mind 2 – Electric Boogaloo!) and comics (note the powder-filled Scarface blister!) (Photo credit: Daken)
As well as a selection of prints – from fantastic creatures to the Emporium and even Toxic Mutant Joes Master Wars! (Photo credit: Daken)

In the Hours After featuring Klaudia Bartos, Seonaid Burnie, Carrie Dingwall, Bebe James, Al Joice, Peter Pinckney, Louann Sidon, Olivia Isabel Smith and Theresa Waugh @ the BOXed Quarter, Friday 5th November (Until November 10th)

An excited crowd gathered for In The Hours After… (Photo credit: Theresa Waugh)
(Photo credit: Klaudia Bartos)
(Photo credit: Theresa Waugh)
Featured artists Louann Sidon, Klaudia Bartos, Bebe James, Olivia Isabel Smith, Theresa Waugh and Seonaid Burnie got the chance to celebrate (Photo credit: Findlay Currie)
Olivia Isabel Smith’s mixed media works explore the arrangement, organisation and collection of objects… (Photo credit: Olivia Isabel Smith)
A selection of Seonaid Burnie’s evocative works from In the Hours After… (Photo credit: Seonaid Burnie)
Theresa Waugh’s textile works explore texture, form, pattern and colour (Photo credit: Theresa Waugh)
Bebe James’ beautifully presented jewellery pieces added to the show’s diversity… (Photo credit: Bebe James)
Klaudia Bartos’ haunting portrait works from In the Hours After (Photo credit: Klaudia Bartos)

Are you part of a show coming up? Email hello@watchthisspace.org.nz to let us know. Showtime will cover exhibitions and events from the local scene…

 

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And That Was… October 2021

Despite the challenges of Covid through the second half of the year, Christchurch has continued to present activities to keep us busy and engaged – from new murals to exhibitions and projects. Likewise, other cities have worked hard to keep events going, albeit under trying and ultimately stressful realities. But one of the great things about urban art is its ability to thrive no matter the circumstances, it is a sign of our endurance and existence, so it is fitting that many of the entries in this month’s And That Was… are reflective of that potential, even if they are commissioned projects or organised events…

Even More: The Show @ Clubhouse Creative

The latest incarnation of Lydia Thomas’ More: The Show, Even More: The Show took place in a new location (making use of the awesome spaciousness of Southwark Street’s Clubhouse Creative) and featured a number of new artists, some Watch this Space favourites, others new names for us to get excited about. With a diverse range of talented local female creatives, and packed into the massive warehouse space in a visual feast, the pop-up was popular and energetic and yet another bow for the Hello I Am project…

Ghosts on Every Corner gets a Boost…

Image courtesy of Jenna Ingram at Fiksate

It was so good to see the Ghosts on Every Corner team reach their Boosted campaign goal! Ghostcat and the Fiksate team have been working away at getting this art trail and book project off the ground and the support for their Boosted campaign was incredible as they reached their goal with a few hours to spare! Bring on the mini art and normal-sized book!

The Ocean is in our Hands – Blue Cradle x Popx x OK Creates

Local oceanographic non-profit trust Blue Cradle along with Richie Pops Baker and OK Creates are the forces behind this new mural on Colombo Street. The work celebrates the incredible diversity and supportive qualities of the ocean, while also serving as a reminder that we need to ensure its health and care. It is an impressive and meaningful addition to a busy part of town!

The Paste-Up Project x teethlikescrewdrivers

Watch This Space, along with Phantom Billstickers, have been busy creating The Paste-Up Project, a new platform for one of urban art’s most enduring forms. Turning a central city bollard into a supported platform for paper-based art, the project adds diversity to the city’s urban art profile. Teethlikescrewdrivers was first up, and we love his Connection, Community and Collaboration installation, which ties together some of the key elements of urban art!

Dr Suits @ Graffiato Street Art Festival

Image courtesy of the artist and Fiksate

our buddy Dr Suits was among the guest artists at Taupo’s renowned Graffiato festival over Labour Weekend. With a truncated roster due to Auckland’s Covid restrictions, Aotearoa’s longest running urban art festival was a slightly different proposition in 2021, but Dr Suits (with assistance from man himself Porta) flew the flag for Ōtautahi, producing a striking and bold work that suggests some new directions for his public output…

What have we missed? What were your highlights for October? Let us know in the comment section…

 

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Chimp – Social Woes @ Fiksate Gallery

Wellington artist Chimp returns to Ōtautahi and Fiksate Gallery for a new show on Friday, November 5th. Social Woes follows Chimp’s 2019 show Aliases, and marks both an extension and an evolution – a continuation of the artist’s fascination with the impact of social and digital media on our lives and mental health, while also notably pushing his work in new directions stylistically and technically.

Built from Chimp’s exploration of how social media has affected our ability to communicate and engage, Social Woes suggests this collective weight without a heavy-handed or explicit commentary, instead encouraging our reflection and consideration with increasingly fractured compositions and painterly flashes. The artist is acutely aware that the show is more an opportunity to bring people together and to raise questions than any offer of answers or solutions.

Social Woes opens 5pm, Friday, November 5th at Fiksate Gallery (54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham)

All Images from the artist and Fiksate

 

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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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And That Was… June 2021 with DREAM.R

When we asked DJ DREAM.R to compile our And That Was… for June, we knew she would have plenty of rad things to talk about – the flip side of that is it becomes a tough task for someone who is constantly juggling projects and events to find time! Like the champion DREAM.R is though, she made time and came back to us with an amazing list of things she has loved from the last month – from creative workshops to morning raves and bubbling plans for murals in Wellington, this is most definitely the list of a true creative who spreads across the realms of making, doing and thriving! From choice-cuts that get the crowds dancing to funky pots and earrings as well as a surrounding circle of friends that guarantee wicked plans, DREAM.R was a perfect choice to recap June 2021…

Jess Johnson and M/K Press Workshops at the Christchurch Art Gallery

I recently attended a few workshops at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, including a session with artist Jess Johnson, who creates intricate otherworldly pieces that I have been drawn to for their pastel colours, symmetry and sci-fi strangeness. She does most excellent collaborations with Simon Ward and together they make their worlds come to life with virtual reality. If you ever get a chance to check this out, don’t sit on it – get involved!  It was insightful to learn her techniques and inspirations and I got to play around with my own piece on the day.

I also attended another great workshop with Jane Maloney from M/K Press who brought in her risograph and showed us how it all worked. I got to create a few fun prints working in with some backgrounds she had already printed. Using the risograph was magic, and so satisfying to watch. I had no idea how it worked and now that I have had a play, I am itching for more! M/K Press’s 12-month collaboration with Fiksate Gallery, of a limited run of prints each month with a new urban artist is amazing!

Morning People

I was recently asked to play an event called Morning People, which happened to be on a Thursday morning at 6:30am! Now, when I first heard about Morning People I was skeptical because, quite frankly, I am far from a morning person (more like a night owl). However, I went to the first show they did in Christchurch a while back and was surprised at how much fun I had and how refreshing it was. Leaving the club at 8am is a memory of the distant past …ye old Christchurch city life…out ze club and onto the first bus home no more!

The morning is designed to offer an early, clean one-and-a-half hour, one-DJ rave for people before they start their day. They serve coffee, fruit, protein bars, and my fav drink ‘Club Matè’ (an epic caffeinated beverage from South America). This is a recipe for the best start to the day I have experienced yet. I was buzzing all day from the energy the crowd gave me. Watching everyone just get into it and dance their lil’ butts off was so magical. From a DJ’s perspective, it was a totally nervous lead up (feeling the pressure of delivering a solid performance of dancey tuneage to full-on sober punters!) with an exciting and fun outcome where I really just had a fully focused and dedicated crowd of beautiful people who were there to move their bodies! What more could we ask for?!

Morning people are based in Auckland and they do early morning raves in Auckland, Christchurch and sometimes Wellington. Check them out and if you can do it, do it! I recommend trying it at least once to see if it’s for you!

Cosmic Undertakings

The temporary frontage of Cosmic Wellington, which will soon see some new art

As the Operations and Project Manager for Cosmic, I am working on a project for our Wellington store where we will be doing some murals on the store frontages. I have approached an artist for one, but they haven’t confirmed yet, so I won’t divulge (but I will say that they are one of my most favourite artists on the scene today and the work she creates is magic!). This would be for a roller door and a feature wall inside the new café/vape store. For the other roller door, I will be doing a piece with my lil’ babe of a friend Lil’ Ems, who is the heart of ‘Cute Gang’ (a worldwide gang of cute artists who share the love of street art and connections). I have no idea what we will come up with, so I cannot wait to get drawing! Ems just did a wee sign on our frontage to show we are still open throughout the renovations. We have already been tagged with ‘F**k the Police’, which we assumed would happen and may end up being a funny week of bomb tags, although I do hope the final images are respected and left as is. Wellington has some real beautiful wall coverings and it is always such a trip walking the streets and taking in the talented creations. This is less of a did-do… and more of a watch-this-space!
If anyone is interested in showing me their work and could see themselves doing a mural, please flick me some details and ideas to leila@cosmicnz.co.nz – we haven’t locked anyone in yet and it could still be up for grabs if it’s a fun and suitable match (Wellington-based ideally for ease of logistics!).

Warehouse fun and Shes.cutting.shapes!

A Shes.cuttin.shapes creation

A bunch of my crew just signed a short-term lease on a warehouse right in the centre of town. We have intentions to use this space as storage for our many behind-the-scene ventures and to make a studio where we can create new works while hanging with friends. We are called ‘Clubhouse Creative’ and while I am not sure where this new venture will take us, it is super exciting to think of the possibilities! I look forward to playing around with more painting and doing some bigger murals (practice for the Welly mission – I will attempt to paint a mural on the front roller door… I’m not sure who painted the one that is on there now, but I think it’s time for a refresh…), and to make space for my Shes.cuttin.shapes projects. I have been painting pots for all of my plant friends for a few years now. I use test pots from Resene and never plan them before I put brush to pot, I trust the process and enjoy the moment! I also make earrings from molding clay and have fun with my hands making cool patterns and shapes. I haven’t quite got them to the stage of selling, most of my creations are for me and my friends… I am hoping that this space will give me the creative space to share my love of these things!

Lots of creations on the horizon!

RDU’s Slaps Collection

I play with some good friends of mine on the Rhythm Zone show on RDU 98.5FM every second Friday from 6pm to 8pm. Being in the RDU studio, I have always spent any downtime in between mixes looking deeply into their slap sticker collections from over the years. It has been built up over years and shows a long history of the humans who have passed through and/or contributed their time to the station from all walks of life within the music industry. Each individual sticker represents a gig or a musician or a label or a brand – spanning many years of goodness!

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Askew One and Jasmine Gonzalez – Continuum @ Fiksate Gallery

Opening June 4th, Elliot ‘Askew’ O’Donnell and Jasmine Gonzalez present their first collaborative show Continuum at Fiksate Gallery. Based on a series of Gonzalez’s photographs interwoven with O’Donnell’s painterly investigations of digital and analogue abstraction, the show is a reflective rumination on the travails of the last year, the couple based largely in the US during the Covid-19 pandemic and the broader civil unrest that also flared during 2020. Continuum reflects the philosophy adopted by the duo as coping mechanisms throughout those challenging times. Viewing history and the contemporary experience as part of a continuum, the artists have created a body of work that is both beautiful and unsettling, as well as highly collaborative – working with O’Donnell’s florist mother Meghan Humphries and Wellington-based dancer, poet and performance artist Jahra Wasasala. The sequence of large canvasses suggest the interconnection of experiences and the cyclical pattern of history, even as hopelessness and isolation abounds.

Continuum opens June 4th at Fiksate Gallery (54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham), and runs until July 3rd.

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And That Was… April 2021

April has come and gone and while the year moves at a steady pace, there has been plenty to keep us entertained. Although the weather is getting a little less predictable, it is providing a late flurry of sunshine (at least after the inevitable chilly mornings), extending the window for outdoor activities like painting murals! While there have been a number of new outdoor works to explore, there have also been some very cool things going on indoors as well. Exhibitions like Ghostcat’s Shadow Town at Fiksate Gallery and the Canterbury Museum’s Hakē: Street Art Revealed, have provided popular experiences. As always, we have a recap of what tickled our fancy, compiled as an easy-to-follow list! So, without further ado, here is our And That Was… April 2021

Ghost’s Shadow Town @ Fiksate

Ghostcat’s Shadow Town was packed for opening night… Photo credit: Charlie Rose Creative

Ghostcat’s Shadow Town was highly anticipated and the crowd that showed up for the opening night at Fiksate were not disappointed. The collection of miniatures drawn from Christchurch’s urban environment were hot tickets, with people drawn to the beautiful intricate details and the associated nostalgia. With just a few days left at the time of writing, if you haven’t made it to Shadow Town, hurry!

Benjamin Work @ The Canterbury Museum

Benjamin Work’s Motutapu II was produced for the Hakē: Street Art Revealed exhibition at the Canterbury Museum

When the Canterbury Museum were presented with a window to reveal the legacy works from the massively successful Rise exhibition, they also wanted to add a new work to the main exhibition hall. Enter Auckland artist Benjamin Work, whose massive, striking floor mural Motutapu II draws from the iconography  found on the Tongan ‘Akau Tau (war clubs) in the Museum’s collection. The work adds a new element to the surrounding wall paintings from Rise, highlighting the diverse trajectories of urban artists over the last decade.

TMD x DTR x Ysek X Chile One in New Brighton

A collaborative jam with members of TMD, DTR along with YSEK and Chile One in New Brighton

On a cold Saturday morning (the night after the Shadow Town opening), a heavyweight collection of artists got together in New Brighton for a painting jam. Local artists Dcypher and Ikarus of the DTR crew, Christchurch-based Chilean artists YSEK and Chile One, and Auckland’s Phat1, Diva and Dyle of the legendary TMD crew, freshened up a popular New Brighton wall with traditional graffiti pieces and characters, creating a legacy of the meeting of some of New Zealand’s biggest talent.

Charles Williams and Benjamin Work @ Etu Pasifika Health

The mural on the side of the Etu Pasifika Health Centre. painted by Charles Williams and Benjamin Work

In the wake of the launch of the TMD: An Aotearoa Graffiti Story at The Dowse in Lower Hutt, crew members Benjamin Work and Charles Williams arrived in Christchurch to paint a mural on the new Etu Pasifika Health Centre. The work combines the signature styles of the two artists with a design conceived by fellow TMD member Janine Williams. The background is coloured in a bright blue, black, yellow and white pattern, with Work’s Tongan warrior chief figure on the left couched within the architectural framework, while Williams’ depiction of a Red-tailed Tropicbird soars upwards from the bottom right. The harmonious combination of styles creating an impressive new work for Christchurch.

TMD: An Aotearoa Graffiti Story @ The Dowse

A straight letter roll-call on the wall of the flat recreated in the TMD exhibition at Lower Hutt museum The Dowse

It may not have been in Christchurch, but I couldn’t leave out my trip to Wellington for the opening of the TMD: An Aotearoa Graffiti Story at Lower Hutt’s The Dowse Museum. Combining history and installations that spoke to the culture and roots of New Zealand’s most iconic graffiti crew with a group show of crew members’ contemporary practice, the exhibition struck all the right chords. The additional benefits of seeing the crew members painting murals around Lower Hutt and then as part of a panel discussion topped off the weekend. I highly recommend – go see it!

And That Was… April 2021 – what would you add to the list? Comment below to let us know!

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