How would you describe what you do?
We explore, document, celebrate and champion urban art in Ōtautahi and wider Aotearoa. Our goal is to help build platforms and connections between the diverse strands of graffiti and street art and the public, provide opportunities for participation and reflection, as well as grow the ecosystem of this art world and its ability to impact our broader communities. This ranges from guided tours that explore the stories of the art and artists, including education-based options for schools, to our online map (with over 600 entries) and blog where we interview artists and cover events, to our work on commissions and projects that push the performances of urban art as part of our surrounding landscapes.
What was your most recent project?
The Flare Street Art Festival. Before that, The Paste-Up Project – where we have partnered with Phantom Billstickers and a range of local paste-up artists to take over a central city bollard in an exploration of the potential of paste-up and poster art. This provides a platform for an enduring and diverse aspect of urban art that is often overlooked when it comes to commissioned installations. This allows artists to take their work in new directions and to a bigger scale within a supported framework. The bollard is located on Manchester Street and currently features work by Teethlikescrewdrivers, in late January 2022, our next artist will take over the site.
What project have you worked on that you’re the most proud of?
All of them! The work that goes into making any creative project come to reality ensures you absolutely cherish when something comes together! Anytime we work with large groups, especially of students, it is super rewarding, but even the smaller experiences, with just a handful of people exploring the city is so satisfying. We also have some really exciting concepts in play for the coming months, so of course they will be a massive source of pride if we can realise them!
What is essential for creatives to have in their life?
A supportive network of people who also believe in creativity and its role in our societies. It is harrowing to take on the uncertainty of creative life, but when you find a network of friends and supporters and people to work with, you can dream big! The other thing, I think, is the belief that creativity can bring real change, that belief in art’s power to impact the world.
What inspires you about Ōtautahi?
The people, our recent history, the recognition that we have grown over the last decade that we must be dynamic and the city should reflect that…
What piece of advice about your creative work has served you well?
It isn’t so much advice than someone who set an example – a good friend of mine reminded me that it is important to like and love things – to celebrate the things that you love – its really easy in the arts to get cynical, and forget the energy and excitement that attracts us in the first time, and that might be a fresh and funky little tag, to a massive installation…
What’s the biggest misconception about your creative work?
That would be the way urban art has been positioned for so long as a sign of danger and decay, rather than active creativity. There is of course an element of all things, but at the same time, the construction of graffiti in particular as a relatively one-dimensional symbol of chaos has been enduring in a world where grey walls represent order and control.
What Christchurch artists do you most admire?
The DTR crew (Dcypher, Wongi ‘Freak’ Wilson, Ikarus, Jacob Yikes), the Fiksate collective (Dr Suits, Jenna Ingram, Porta), Ghostcat, The SlapCity artists, all those who are putting their energy into making our streets super interesting!
What artwork/piece of music/performance has taken your breath away?
It used to be Mayonaize’s amazing calligraphic work on the rear of the YMCA until it was demolished, and before that, there have been so many mural works that were amazing but have faded away as the city has been rebuilt (Drypnz on St Asaph Street, Lister on Les Mills, Ash Keating’s Concrete Propositions, Owen Dippie’s Ballerina). But that is the nature of this form of art. Berst’s God of the Forest, tucked away in Sydenham was painted all the way back in 2013, but it still draws me in every time…
What do you wish you’d have known about creative work when you were younger?
That it is actually more amorphous and shifting than you think, that there are many ways to operate within the art worlds, and often you can create new spaces as well, rather than trying to fit into the traditional construction…
What’s your favourite hidden secret in Ōtautahi?
Ghostcat’s tiny ‘DO NOT PRESS’ buttons.