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.

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.

Spotlight 2.0 – Jimirah Baliza’s Get a Grip

The fourth installation of this female-centric Spotlight series, Ōtautahi artist and designer Jimirah Baliza’s Get a Grip, is a playful invitation to passers-by; an invitation to pause and immerse ourselves in a scene that transcends our immediate experience. The animated depiction of a retro arcade claw machine embodies the unpredictable nature of life, reminding us that it is often filled with both anticipation and uncertainty, ups and downs, near misses and satisfying successes. Anyone who has played such a game knows the hope, the excitement, the calculation, the frustration, and ultimately either the disappointment or the elation of the challenge. Drawing on this universal connection, Baliza presents a whimsical moment of candy floss pink and baby blue nostalgia, transporting us back to a time of innocence and wonder, where the act of winning a prize was a heart-pounding adventure.

Get a Grip plays through the experience of the game on a loop of attempts, at first failing, the prize slipping from the metal claw, but eventually succeeding, creating a crescendo of joy following the spilled first attempts. The smile as the ‘prize’ toddles off from the machine. The prizes themselves, cheerful animal characters, serve as smiling participants in the challenge. They become echoes of community, networks of support with the ability to uplift each other. We are encouraged to keep on, to go again, to get our rewards and to revel in that success.  

Jimirah Baliza is an Ōtautahi Christchurch-based independent graphic designer, illustrator and artist. Raised in Manila, Baliza is a creative problem solver at heart, with a passion for working with entrepreneurs, local businesses, community groups and organisations, enhancing their visual communications and their ability to engage, empower and educate across print, screen and space. Get a Grip was once again supported by local legend Nicholas Keyse. Pushing the limits of graphics technology while incorporating traditional techniques, Keyse founded Immersive Reality Ltd after working extensively in the print and digital design industry. Showcasing his work in exhibitions, Keyse held a solo exhibition at the Centre of Contemporary Arts’ Lux Gallery in Christchurch in 2019. Co-founder and curator of record label Subtle Recordings, he is also well-known for his prolific production of music posters with which he hopes to continue to inspire future creatives.

Spotlight – Urban Art Projections is proudly presented by Watch This Space in collaboration with ChristchurchNZ. This iteration of Spotlight proudly 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 2.0 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.

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.

Spotlight – A New Light…

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

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

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

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

And That Was… July 2023

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

The Street Art Flea Market @ The Mid Winter Session

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

Component’s Living in a Loop @ Fiksate Gallery

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

Tīrama Mai @ Victoria Square

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

Jessie Rawcliffe kicks off the new Spotlight Project

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

Barbenheimer

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

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