And That Was… October 2023

October is a transitional month. Technically it is Spring, but there isn’t quite the feeling that Summer is just about here. Rain is as likely as sunshine. It seems the most fitting month to represent Otautahi in some ways, enjoyably unpredictable. So what tickled our fancy over the October weeks? Well, there was a bit to enjoy – projections, murals, little bits and pieces – all sorts, just like the weather. Let’s get a bit more specific shall we? Here are five things we enjoyed:

Mark Catley’s “Battle of the Undies

Sure, we may be showing our bias as 80s kids, but if you remember the Masters of the Universe toys that had chests that would flick between various stages of battle scars, these paste ups by Mark Catlery will bring nostalgic joy rushing back…

Dcypher goes cosmic…

We are constantly amazed at the prodigious work ethic and technical skill of Dcypher – this new Colombo Street mural is evidence of both – the science fiction cum fantasy scene combines a range of flourishing details to astound passersby, but the speed with which it was painted is equally impressive – we truly have a master in our midst.

Jen_Heads at Te Pae

The latest addition to the Spotlight – Urban Art Projections series is a fiery and mesmerising collaboration between the titular artist and Sam Emerson from Offline Collective – rotating through illuminated iterations of Jenna Ingram’s urban icon, it is well worth the visit once the sun goes down!

Ghostcat’s Leave No Trace Trail

Firstly, apologies for the blurry photo, but honestly, one of the best aspects of Ghostcat’s latest addition to his Leave No Trace trail is its subtle placement deep inside City Mall. Paying homage to the iconic Hack Circle, a legend of the city’s youth culture, the small recreation sits as a nodding wink to those who survey their surroundings and a reminder of the ways things change.

Paint the Town Blank…

We don’t know the artist but we couldn’t exclude this cheeky little stencil work – it’s influences are clear, but it is still a playful reminder that white-washed walls are, quite frankly, boring.

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.

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!

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

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!

And That Was… October 2022

October is a month that keeps you guessing. The weather is still likely to throw a few curve balls, and people tend to not know if they are still in a mid-year blitz or are creeping towards the end of the year wind-down. It feels like this unpredictable manner extends to the art in the streets, with surprises popping up in the form of both small additions and large projects. October 2022 kicked off with the Christchurch Hip Hop Summit, saw a refresh for the Berlin Wall, and provided a range of little surprises in between. So, let’s have a look at what we loved in October…

The Dance-O-Mat gets a facelift…

Gap Filler’s iconic Dance-O-Mat had already made itself known in it’s new home on Manchester Street, but in October, it got a brighter spruce-up when the Christchurch Hip Hop Summit Graffiti Jam painted the walls of the site with traditional pieces and characters by Tepid, YSEK, Meep, Drows, Xact and APEK. Additionally, the temporary wall was unveiled as a paste-up site, with the wood covered by the Slap City collective.

DTR X FILTH Crews Collab

In addition to the Dance-O-Mat Graffiti Jam, the Cathedral Square section of Spark Lane also got some new art courtesy of a collaborative production between the FILTH crew and DTR. Coordinated by Ikarus as an additional element of the Hip Hop Summit, the jam featured some Christchurch graffiti royalty in a Simpsons/Masters of the Universe mash-up themed production. With the site now opened and more visible, the painting is a timely addition and reminder of the talented local scene.


Now What Belongs Together, Will Grow Together, Bols on the Berlin Wall

Local stencil artist Bols refreshed the west-facing side of the Berlin Wall in Rauora Park. The text-based painting, based on a quote from German politician Willy Brandt, continues the artist’s investigation of words as image. The layered text in reds, orange, yellow and white, echo not only the German flag, but also the flames of protest, a reminder of what it takes to break down walls.

Complementary Summoning Spot

Right next to the Berlin Wall, we also found one of our favourite pieces of street art, if it can be called as such – perhaps it is more aptly described as an activation – of the dead! Cinder’s Complementary Summoning Spot, seeingly installed by Archfiend, is an urban ouija board, adding a spiritual twist to the streets, and daring passers-by to scratch that supernatural itch!

Sam and Sandra…

To sign off on October, we take a very different direction, a much more wholesome example of urban inscription. Is there anything more heart-warming than a declaration of friendship inscribed for posterity? Sam and Sandra are BFF’s and they have committed that to the world, in fact, the world would be that much better if we all displayed that kind of earnestness…

They were our favourite things from October, what were yours? Let us know in the comments!

The Christchurch Hip Hop Summit 2022 – The DTR Graffiti Showcase

The Christchurch Hip Hop Summit kicked off for 2022 with a day of painting and tunes as the oldest of the four elements took centre stage. Organised and curated by Ikarus of the DTR Crew, the Summit’s Graffiti Jam featured two productions; one by a collection of local artists at the re-activated Dance-O-Mat site on Manchester Street and the other, a collaboration between the DTR and FILTH crews, along Spark Laneway between Hereford Street and Cathedral Square. While the two jams had starkly different atmospheres; DJs played music as crowds gathered at the Dance-O-Mat, the DTR and FILTH jam more low-key, they both celebrated the traditions of graffiti and resulted in impressive productions.

Making a Place of Play

Gapfiller’s Dance-O-Mat, a relocatable urban dance floor, is one of the city’s most enduring post-quake place-making icons – a status cemented when the now King and Queen Consort, Charles and Camilla, cut some shapes on the floor when they visited the city in 2012. When the Dance-O-Mat needed a new home, GapFiller found the vacant space next to Paddy McNaughton’s Irish Pub on Manchester Street. The process of installing the dance floor was undertaken and soon, the washing machine discotheque was sending rhythms out across the city and limbs were moving (some more elegantly than others).

The Dance-O-Mat’s new setting was a typical Ōtautahi lot, vacant but for rocky shingle, weeds and bright graffiti painted on the surrounding walls. Now with support from GapFiller, Resene Paints, the Christchurch Hip Hop Summit and a range of artists, the paint covered walls have been given a facelift to match the Dance-O-Mat’s activation. The first addition was a simple black and white declaration of the site as a Gapfiller ‘Place of Play’ – part of the urban play initiative. The mural, completed by Nick Lowry and Bols, simply deploys the graphic Place of Play logo, designed by Ariki Creative, running along the upper section of the Northern wall, boldly declaring the site as a destination. The painting spanning 18 metres in length and starting more than three metres up the wall, was completed in just two days, and set the tone for further activations.

If the Place of Play mural served a practical purpose, the next wave of creative work was brighter and exemplified the Place of Play intentions. On the first weekend of October, the 2022 Christchurch Hip Hop Summit kicked off with graffiti jams – including at the Dance-O-Mat site, where a selection of local graffiti artists refreshed the walls with characters and pieces. The activity, bolstered by DJs playing music, drew sizeable crowds (and dancers), making the most of the (almost) summery weather. Across from the graffiti artists, members of Slap City decorated the dedicated paste-up wall (which already featured a bold ‘Dance-O-Mat’ painting in red and yellow by teethlikescrewdrivers) with paper-based additions big, small and everywhere in between.

The flurry of activity was a perfect introduction for a site that now celebrates various creative outlets, a new must-see destination in the heart of Ōtautahi. The Dance-O-Mat is back and it looks fantastic!

TUNE! with PK

One of the best things about the TUNE! project is seeing the diverse range of influences different artists reveal. The spectrum of musical collections is a great reminder that nothing is monolithic. It is easy to assume graffiti writers and street artists are all simple stereotypes (hooded vandals or hipster artists), the reality is, of course, not so monochromatic. For this edition of TUNE!, we talk to enigmatic local graffiti writer, photographer and urban explorer PK, who drops an eclectic mix of tunes, from Grace Jones and The Brian Jonestown Massacre to Dam Native and The Birthday Party, a perfect example of spiraling influences…

PK: Music is my second biggest obsession (the first isn’t hard to guess!). I think music is definitely the cooler of the two. I don’t often listen to stuff while I’m painting or going about my day now, but I have fun memories of boosting around on all night missions as a teenager listening to my punk cassettes and BBC One In The Jungle mixes. I wanted this list to have a bit of everything I enjoy but it got to like 50 songs so I cut it down to a lucky 13 that I think represents most of what I’ve been listening to recently…

Burning Witch – Stillborn

Lydia Lunch – Friday Afternoon

Joanne Robertson – Hi Watt

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – E to G

Flipper – Shed No Tears

Townes Van Zandt – White Freight Liner Blues

Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence – Grey/Afro

Scraps – Baby Baby

Grace Jones – Me! I Disconnect From You

Strawberry Switchblade – Trees and Flowers

The Birthday Party – Sonny’s Burning

Dam Native – Battle Styles

Marilao – F*@k Me Moon [Morph]

TUNE! is an ever-growing playlist of the music that inspires our favourite creatives – stay tuned for our next edition!

Tune! with Peaz

The next entry in our ever-growing playlist of music that inspires our favourite creatives comes from graffiti artist Peaz. With a mix of hip-hop, low-fi, pysch and blues, these cuts are a perfect blend and reflection of the artist’s tastes and a world view that is about the present and the importance of expression and experiences…

Peaz: I love all kinds of music, especially depending on which part of my life journey is being experienced. Everything from early psychedelic rock to the newer styles, doom, hip hop, blues, jazz and metal. Much like graffiti, I especially value artists with a message, who have a story to tell. There is a lot to be said for music and art that makes us look a little deeper and think a little differently. Most of the artists listed here constantly remind me of what’s really important in life and existing, much like being active as a writer. It’s about looking at the bigger picture and being here, now; living in every moment and expressing oneself as authentically as possible. It’s almost impossible to sweat the small stuff when creating and experiencing, so I suppose that’s what makes music more meaningful to me.

Horrorshow – Waiting for the 5.04


All Day – Wasting Time

Mac Miller – Ascension

@peace – Nothing

Avantdale Bowling Club – Home

All Them Witches – Effervescent

Dead Meadow – The Light

The Doors – Been Down So Long

Kid Cudi – Solo Dolo

David Dallas – Til Tomorrow

Follow Peaz on Instagram