26/03/2019 1:30:00 a.m.
26 March 2019
Organisers are gearing up for the Whanganui Walls street art festival, which will see nationally and internationally acclaimed street artists bring colour and imagery to eight large walls in the lower two blocks of Victoria Avenue.
From Thursday, 28 March - Sunday, 31 March there is the opportunity to watch the artists at work. Local street artist Simon Ormerod, who is one of the Whanganui Walls organisers, says seeing street artists painting live “will give people a fascinating insight into street art processes. We’ve timed the street art festival to coincide with the second Open Studios weekend so people can add visits to the eight walls to their tour programme”.
Town Centre Regeneration Project Manager Ellen Young says, “Whanganui is a town with a vibrant arts scene and we wanted to bring some of the colour out of the art galleries and into the streets.
“Each artist was given a Whanganui history pack and some artists used this as a springboard to develop their artwork. It was important to us to allow the artists to go through a genuine creative process and have complete autonomy in developing their design, rather than having us direct them to produce a particular image.
“In some cases artists engaged in very in-depth research of their own to come up with relevant and engaging images for our city. One example of this is Detroit artist Pat Perry, who through his own exploration found out about painter Edith Collier and has designed an artwork which references this important historic figure.
“Street art is a great way to rejuvenate our town centre as it evokes an emotional response and stimulates discussion, creating connections between people,” Ms Young says.
Whanganui District Council Arts Advisor Riah King-Wall says the Council is “pleased to support Whanganui Walls and Whanganui & Partners with this initiative. A key goal in the Council’s proposed Arts and Culture Strategic Plan is to promote engagement in the arts for everyone in our community, and street art really fits well with that”.
A programme has been put in place to give seven local student artists, in Years 12-13 or in tertiary study, the chance to be mentored by the Whanganui Walls artists. Selected student artists will be paired with a street artist on Thursday and Friday to learn skills and techniques. On Saturday and Sunday the student artist group will collaborate to create a mural, under the guidance of Rotorua artist Jacob Chrisohoou. Whanganui & Partners Education and Youth Strategic Lead Hannah Kelly says Whanganui & Partners is “maximising the potential of this event by giving budding artists the opportunity to experience a career path that’s open to them.
“We anticipate that students on the mentorship programme will go back to their schools or learning institutions and, in turn, provide mentorship and teach skills and techniques to other students”.
Councillor Helen Craig, Town Centre Regeneration Committee Chair, says examples from other cities show street art “gives a strong return on investment. For a relatively small sum, an area can be transformed and become a destination for tourists who visit the area specifically to view the street art. These eight walls, which are in walking distance of each other, will be a real asset to our city”.
Brochures for the Whanganui Walls street art festival are available at the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre at 31 Taupō Quay. Street artists and wall locations are listed below:
- Gina Kiel: 19 Taupō Quay
- Cinzah: 17 Taupō Quay
- Cracked Ink: 10 Rutland Street
- Amok Island: 25 Drews Avenue
- Hayley Welsh: 30 Victoria Avenue
- Pat Perry: 50 Victoria Avenue
- Claire Foxton: 26 Maria Place
- Elliot Francis Stewart: 18 St Hill Street