Showtime – Daken – Garage Sale with Lucky Dips @ Absolution, Monday 13 May, 2024

Like all good garage sale-rs (I’m not sure about you, but I think ‘garage sailors’ is an apt moniker, maybe we can start a trend), we rugged up and got there early for the opening of Daken’s Garage Sale with Lucky Dips at Absolution Tattoo and Piercing in the Arts Centre. A tribute to Kiwiana and nostalgia, with lots of playful mash-ups and pop culture references, Daken’s concept for a good old fashioned garage sale was imbued with his always present sense of humour and earnest drive to make things. Like any good garage sale, there were surprising treasures, with accompanying ephemera, from vintage cassette tapes to a Donkey Kong board game and a Bunnings T-Shirt, to a raft of familiar influences; Bumble, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Four Square and more. For a healthy dose of charming fun, check out Garage Sale with Lucky Dips at Absolution and pick up a few treasures!

If you have an exhibition opening coming, let us know – email us at hello@watchthisspace.org.nz

And That Was… May 2024

May, it was a month of many spinning plates. Here in Ōtautahi, there were the ongoing discussions of local politics as the city planned for our future with the Long Term Plan, but there was also Mother’s Day, Star Wars Day and, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, No Socks Day and Root Canal Appreciation Day (both May 8th). It is fair to say there was a lot going on. But it was also a time where we might expect outdoor art to slow down as the temperatures plummet, so what did we find and what did we love? Well, it turns out there was plenty to do and see, from exhibitions to new works, big and small, and even new ways of looking at Ōtautahi. Read on and find out what we loved in May 2024!

Daken – Garage Sale with Lucky Dips @ Absolution

Our pal Daken staged a fun solo show at Absolution, drawing on his love for childhood nostalgia, Kiwiana and bootleg goodness. Garage Sale with Luck Dips included custom toys, airbrushed vintage t-shirts and, of course, surprises wrapped in paper for punters to take a chance. Our personal favourites? Definitely the dismembered Star Wars and G.I. Joe “bootlegs”, the Thinking Ape painted on a vintage Donkey Kong board game and the customised Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt that immediately evoked the original, practical movie costumes, altogether now, T-U-R-T-L-E Power

Ghostcat’s Leave No Trace Trail Expands…

Ghostcat‘s public trail of reminders of Ōtautahi’s past continues to grow and for many children of the 80s and 90s, the latest addition is especially memorable. The small silver disc may not be easy to spot on Gloucester Street, especially against the similarly coloured lamp post, but a closer inspection reveals it to be one of the iconic tokens from beloved video game arcade Wizards, formerly located just metres away. With more to come, it is worth exploring this touching project and the forthcoming Ghosts on Every Corner exhibition and publication…

Dcypher @ Mexicanos

Dcypher continues to remind us all of his talent with a striking addition to Mexicano’s Restaurant on Victoria Street. The radiant winged Virgin, occupying an expansive desert scene, fits perfectly with the popular eatery’s aesthetic – more please (that’s more tacos, more margaritas and more art)!

The City After Dark

As the city gets dark earlier in the evening, it is interesting to explore the art that takes on a different appearance in a vacated setting bathed in different light – like this DTR production on Manchester Street. From works illuminated by lighting to projected artworks and light installations, Ōtautahi is a surprising setting even after the sun goes down…

Love Everyone…

We couldn’t help but include this little mantra scrawled on one of the giant cans on St Asaph Street – Love Yourself, Love Everyone, Love Vampires. Sounds like good advice…

What made your May? Let us know below…

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!

Postcard from Sydney, Australia

Sydney is a big city. You can feel it when you arrive, and especially when you explore the central city. The buildings are impressive, the sprawl is wide and the energy is palpable. Sydney might not be held in the same regard as Melbourne in terms of street art reputation, but it undeniably still has a significant part in the history of Australian urban art culture. Earlier this year, we took a relaxing weekend in Sydney, exploring various parts of the city on foot and via train – taking in graffiti, murals, interventions and more. Below is a selection of some of our favourite finds, including some Fintan Magee, a brand new DANK (painted the first day we arrived at Pro Art Supplies), Thierry Noir and Jeremy Novy and a heap of local talent…

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.