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…
Do you have any favourite pieces of Auckland street art? Share your photos on our social media!
MOTUTAPU, a collaborative project by Tāmaki Makaurau artists Benjamin Work and Brendan Kitto, is the conclusion of a four-year exploration of the shared histories of Motutapu, or sacred islands, throughout Moana Oceania, including Tongatapu, Rarotonga and at the entrance to the Waitematā Harbour in Tāmaki. These sanctuary spaces, gateways for voyagers departing from and arriving at the mainlands, were where the lifting of tapu and making things noa (free from the restrictions of tapu) occurred, connecting navigators with their ancestors and kainga. For the artists, who travelled to three of the Motutapu locations and engaged with key knowledge holders, the journey became deeply personal, connecting to their own genealogy, centering on reconnection and reconciliation, joining communities across Moana Oceania through time and space.
The exhibition, built around the juxtaposition of Work’s evocative paintings (including the hanging Piha Passage and free-standing Mata Pā screens) and Kitto’s photographs of Motutapu ki Tāmaki Makaurau, Motutapu ki Tongatapu and Motutapu ki Raraotonga, is currently on show at Te Uru – Waitakere Contemporary Gallery (11 June – 11 September 2022), and includes the launch of an accompanying publication MOTUTAPU.
For the latest installment of Street Treats, we are serving up a selection of pieces, pastes, pixels, petals and beyond. From a reminder of an old pal’s legacy, to epic collaborations and tiny treats, the streets have provided a range of goodies. That is, of course, the joy of the urban environment as a setting for creative (and naughty) interventions, there is no curation. The result echoes the physical presence of our cities, where thousands, indeed millions of people interweave as they go about their own concerns, trials and aspirations. Any city is a collection of individual voices and the art of the streets reflects this diversity, each piece the compulsive expression of an individual that can be read in infinite ways by the passing audience. In a world where online communication has become increasingly toxic and antagonistic, the art in the streets provides something different, still capable of asserting beliefs and ideologies, but devoid of the escalating tensions or echo chambers of comment sections. Indeed, as one image attests, often the response to uninvited additions is not so much beautification as silencing, ensuring a monochromatic environment. So enjoy this platter of pictures and relax, our cities and our communities are not monolithic, and the streets provide the platform for that multiplicity…
This edition of And That Was… was almost forgotten, such was the nature of April 2022. With March a hectic month, there was a feeling April would be quieter, but the reality was anything but relaxed. Months fly by these days, a combination of busy schedules and the constantly evolving Covid situation. April kicked off with a whirlwind trip to Tāmaki Makaurau for Ghostcat’s collaborative The Main Line exhibition at Limn Gallery, and as you might expect, a range of other adventures and encounters. On the home front, we have been launching a few new initiatives that will all become a bit clearer over the coming weeks… In the meantime, here are a few of the highlights from April!
The Main Line opening @ Limn Gallery
We boarded a flight to Auckland on the 7th of April for the opening of The Main Line, a show featuring 28 custom-built miniature trains, produced by Christchurch’s own Ghostcat, each decorated by a graffiti artist paying homage to the iconic Spacerunner carriage (artists included Dyle 52, Askew, Phat1, Berst, Morpork, Lurq, Ikarus, Dcypher, Yikes, Freak, Vents and more). The opening was packed with names from the Aotearoa graffiti scene, reminiscing over a beloved part of the local culture’s history, making for an auspicious occasion.
Street Treats in Tāmaki Makaurau
With The Main Line opening on a Friday night, the rest of the weekend was left for exploring and the chance to navigate Aotearoa’s biggest urban centre. From the Mercury Plaza to legal walls in Avondale and many spaces in between, it was a treat to stumble upon works by some real heavy hitters and discover some new forces as well. A personal highlight was stencil don Component’s beautiful ballerina in Ponsonby…
Race A2D at The Avondale Pavilion
Another highlight of the trip to Auckland was the chance to catch Race A2D painting at Te Tūtahi Auaha – The Avondale Pavilion – the process documented by the man himself Dr Berst. The Pavilion is a fantastic concept that has become a key tool in the documentation of Aotearoa’s urban art culture. I might even appear in the background of the YouTube video a few times!
Slap City Billboard Takeover
The Slap City collective keep finding amazing spots and this empty billboard is a personal favourite – it might not be as central as some of their other locations, but it has an undeniable charm, echoed in Vez’s sppon drawer and played on by teethlikescrewdriver’s massive pencil. 10/10 would visit again.
Artist Talk with Jacob Yikes @ Fiksate
Jacob Yikes’ Even in Darkness exhibition was an April highlight in itself, a bold body of work that was candid and honest while still mysterious and evocative, but the chance to sit down and discuss the process with the artist with an enthusiastic live audience at Fiksate was a perfect way to end the month. The lengthy talk was an honest insight into the artist’s practice and the influences found in Even in Darkness.
What made your list for April?Let us know in the comments… And if you have any events coming up, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is a strange beast. It is the only mega-city in Aotearoa, and when you touch down from Ōtautahi it is hard to comprehend the sheer spread of the northern metropolis. While you can easily navigate Christchurch’s inner city in 15 minutes, Auckland’s urban centre seemingly sprawls on forever, with each area displaying a distinct identity. Our quick trip to Tāmaki meant we didn’t get to endlessly explore the diversity of the city, but we did get to see a fair bit of art. Of course, there is no chance we could have achieved a full coverage of the city, but what we saw, we loved. Auckland has the longest and largest history of Aotearoa graffiti and street art, so spotting a legendary figure’s name or character, whether fresh or faded, is always a possibility, but still exciting for a nerd like me, while you can always find a new name that is on the come up as well. It also has a truly urban feel, where you can get lost down alleyways, led by the trace of some preceding presence who was compelled to leave their mark. It is a real city, and it’s streets are always talking…
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