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!

Component’s Living in a Loop @ Fiksate Gallery, Friday, 28th July, 2023

Tāmaki Makaurau’s Component opened his first solo show in eight years, and first in Ōtautahi, at Fiksate Gallery on Friday, 28th July, giving Christchurch residents the chance to see one of Aotearoa’s most accomplished street artist’s work in the flesh. A founding member of the Cut Collective, Component has long been at the forefront of stencil art in New Zealand, his technical virtuosity matched with a social message that recognises the public status of urban art. Living in a Loop continued this direction, beautifully painted stencils on an array of found and recovered surfaces drawing on the monotony and complexities of life over the last few tumultuous years. From pandemics to migration, innocence to cynicism, Component’s work captures a sense of the now, all through a lens of an art form with a much longer lineage…

The Viral Huntress, 2023
A good crowd gathered at Fiksate Gallery for Living in a Loop
While it may have been cold outside, the good vibes warmed every up…
Desensitised to the State of War, 2023
The Liberation Equation, 2023
Hope’s Silent Echo, 2023
Digital Refuge, 2023

If you have an event or exhibition coming up – let us know by emailing hello@watchthisspace.org.nz

And That Was… June 2023

Winter is coming… Annnddd it’s here. Just like that the dark nights got colder and the rain more persistent. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, it happens every year, but it is still somewhat jarring when it creeps up on you, seemingly out of the blue each year. Undeniably, June is a quieter month given these circumstances, but that isn’t to say there aren’t things to celebrate, whether it is little treats of street pizza (IYKYK), or treasures to be enjoyed inside the warm confines of home. This month’s And That Was… is a compilation of the things that have kept us warm and fuzzy in the grey climes…

Dcypher x Immersive Reality for the Spotlight Project

Following up from Jacob Yikes and Immersive Reality‘s first projection piece, Dcypher and Nicholas Keyse’s work, an animation of Dcypher’s Welcome to the City illustration brought a graphic, mysterious celebration of the city’s overlooked spaces to the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre wall. A roving adventure that acknowledges the way graffiti and skateboarding subcultures find possibility in the urban jungle, Welcome to the City suggests our surrounding environment is a stage for exploration…

Dr Suits X Cameron Hunt

This shot of Dr Suits‘ geometric mural at the Giant Cans space on St Asaph Street, taken by Cameron Hunt is a stunning view of a work that is not easily seen in totality. Capturing the full composition, this is evidence of the multiple profiles of artworks and the perception of our surroundings…

Boost Ōtautahi Launch @ Te Puna O Waiwhetu – Christchurch Art Gallery

We got along to Te Puna O Waiwhetu at the beginning of June to celebrate the range of projects fundraising via The Arts Foundation’s Boosted platform. A massive task, it was great to see the support and hear the pitches from those passionate about bringing projects to life – special shout out to our pal Bloom and her Ōtautahi Urban Gardener project!

TOYOTA – No Peace, People Mover

New music from electronic duo TOYOTA provided some driving rhythm (shitty pun alert) for June… Check out their new release, the four track EP No Peace, People Mover on Spotify

I Think You Should Leave Season Three

I’m going to finish with my favourite thing on television – Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave – a Netflix sketch comedy show that is all about awkward situations that escalate to insane amounts of cringe. I wasn’t sure anything would top the Sloppy Steaks/Dangerous Nights Crew (“this baby doesn’t think people can change”) and Brian’s Hat skits (“I’ve never fought for anything in my entire life. I’m fighting for this hat”) from previous seasons, but the first episode drops the Zip Line/Summer Lovin’ sketch and I know I can’t leave…

These were some of our favourite things in June, what about you? Let us know what kept you warm in July…

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

And That Was… April 2023

You may have noticed it has been a while since our last And That Was… – our recent hiatus was more to do with a certain exhibition that ‘shifted’ our focus for a while, definitely not because there was nothing to report! Ōtautahi’s urban art scene has continued to thrive, maintaining it’s position as a must-see destination, both through significant events like SHIFT at Canterbury Museum, and the creations gracing the streets, both big and small. For April 2023, these were the things that mattered to us – it’s good to be back!

Farewell to SHIFT: Urban Art Takeover @ Canterbury Museum

Jessie Rawcliffe’s stunning painting for SHIFT at Canterbury Museum

It is impossible to not begin this month’s list with SHIFT at Canterbury Museum – Aotearoa’s largest ever urban art exhibition (almost 100 artists, over 4000 square metres and thousands of visitors). SHIFT closed its doors in mid-April and with it the Museum as we have known it, began its redevelopment. The vibrant burst that was SHIFT was an unbelievable farewell to an iconic institution’s current incarnation. The fit may have perhaps seemed unexpected, but it was strangely apt upon reflection, a signal of the changing nature of museum display and story-telling, and a reminder that change is refreshing. Thanks SHIFT, it was a blast!

Jacob Yikes – Escapism @ Fiksate

Jacob Yikes – Escapism at Fiksate Gallery. Photo credit: Lydia Hannah Thomas

April saw the latest offering from one of our favourite local sons – Jacob Yikes’ Escapism was a brilliant leap for an artist who had already cemented an distinctive creative pathway. Intriguing, detailed, refined and suggestive, Escapism continued Yikes’ investigation of otherworldly realms and the subconscious. Undeniably alluring, the paintings rewarded inspection and reflection…

The Spotlight project @ Te Pae

Jacob Yikes’ I will never know has a new life as part of the Spotlight project at Te Pae

Te Pae’s exterior has some new art with Spotlight, a collaboration between local artists, animators and ChristchurchNZ with Watch This Space. Highlighting the work of four local artists, starting with Jacob Yikes’ I will never know, brought to subtle life by digital animator Nicholas Keyse, Spotlight brings some new found intrigue to the city after dark. When the sun goes down, head down to Te Pae (opposite Gloucester Street) to see Yikes’ projection and stay tuned for a detailed write-up and future artist announcements!

Meep’s Two Realities

Meep’s Two Realities on Allen Street

We love Meep‘s latest work, a stirring anti-racism piece on a row of power boxes on Allen Street, is a reaction to “the lived realities of BIPOC in Aotearoa”. Responding to a harrowing experience of a close friend near the location of the painting, the beautiful painting is a reminder of the necessary conversations we still need to have to eradicate racism from our society (as Meep noted in an Instagram post, so many BIPOC hear the refrain, there’s no racism on New Zealand, despite that being far from the truth). The water line a reflection of the held hurt and trauma of those racially abused and the need to rise above to change racist attitudes… A necessary social commentary from a talented and motivated artist.

Hello Darkness… A Nighttime Tour

Rone’s Tess under lights. Photo credit: Hillary K Photography

Lastly, we were lucky enough to host a night-time tour for delegates of the New Zealand Planners Institute. Our tours traditionally benefit from the sunshine, but as we explored the city after dark it was apparent that the art in our streets shines on long after the sun goes down – from illuminating lighting to dynamic projections and more, it is a reminder that cities need people to activate their spaces, whether presence or productions. Who is keen for another after-dark tour?

These were our favourites, but what lit up your April? Let us know in the comments…