ugly things made beau­ti­ful

Street art is tak­ing over the world’s cities, writes Maya Breen. And it's turn­ing the mun­dane, dull build­ing blocks of the mod­ern metropo­lis into beau­ti­ful art­works wor­thy of a stop-and-mar­vel mo­ment.

Idealog - - SECTION -

The grow­ing trend to beau­tify oth­er­wise ugly ur­ban spa­ces can span from the tow­er­ing gi­ant tree-house mu­ral cov­er­ing the side of a high rise in By­d­goszcz, Poland, to painted pi­ano keys flow­ing down a hid­den stair­way in Val­paraíso, Chile.

A bit closer to home, the Lonely Planet book Street Art from 2017 listed Christchurch among the top cities in the world to see street art, along­side Am­s­ter­dam, New York, Lon­don and Rome.

The pub­lic art adorn­ing the streets of Christchurch hit the news in De­cem­ber last year dur­ing its Street Prints Otau­tahi fes­ti­val. Its col­lec­tion of street art con­tin­ues to grow, with local and in­ter­na­tional artists leav­ing their mark.

“Street art is a re­ally dec­o­ra­tive, beau­ti­ful art form and it en­com­passes any­thing and ev­ery­thing,” says Re­sene mar­ket­ing man­ager Karen War­man.

“Quite a few re­gions now like Hamilton, Dunedin and Christchurch have mu­ral or street art fes­ti­vals each year that take over more and more blank walls, so even­tu­ally they will end up with maybe six to ten mu­rals a year, and then over a pe­riod of five years they’ll end up with a col­lec­tion of 50.”

We ex­plore some of the coun­try’s out­stand­ing pub­lic art, look­ing at the cre­ations from six tal­ented artists us­ing Re­sene paints in their mu­ral work.

Ellen Coup

A life-long painter, Ellen Coup went from mak­ing paint­ings as large as pos­si­ble to paint­ing mu­rals in 2000, from pub­lic projects to pri­vate art­works, and uses Re­sene prod­ucts in all her work. Her ‘Welling­ton Ca­ble Car Mu­ral’ painted in 2016 is one of her big­gest and most de­tailed works so far, cov­er­ing 169 square me­tres of re­tain­ing wall be­side ca­ble car tracks in Welling­ton.

“Ex­ten­sive re­search led to a de­sign that gen­er­ated a vis­ual time-line from 1902 to 2016, us­ing the var­i­ous it­er­a­tions of the ca­ble car, the panorama of Welling­ton, the dress of the pas­sen­gers and a ‘black and white colour fade’, to do the tran­si­tion,” ex­plains Coup.

Her ‘Bowen Hospi­tal’ from 2017 cov­ers a wall at Bowen Hospi­tal in Welling­ton. “This is part of a larger work,” Coup says, adding the in­ten­tion was to have a calm­ing, flora and fauna bush scene on a side of the build­ing. “Us­ing ref­er­ence images that in­cluded a Golden Bay wa­ter­fall and an Akatarawa for­est, I cre­ated some ‘space’ that made sense in the light con­di­tions of the space.”

Dan Mills

Welling­ton mu­ral­ist Dan Mills be­gan paint­ing mu­rals in his first year of Art school in 1995. His style com­bines metic­u­lous re­search and de­sign with a local rel­e­vance and ed­u­ca­tional as­pect. Re­cently, he com­pleted ‘The Le­viathans’ in Castle­cliff, Whanganui.

“The piece draws on my, and the com­mu­nity’s, love of this West Coast,” says Mills. “The whales and al­ba­tross are an ab­stract ref­er­ence to am­bi­tious and in­spir­ing ideas in lit­er­a­ture that seem to sit well in this neigh­bour­hood. The white whales are ob­vi­ous. There's also a bit in

The Lu­mi­nar­ies that com­pares an al­ba­tross to a ship. That im­age, and the con­cept of pow­er­ful nat­u­ral forces pulling and

steer­ing an evolv­ing com­mu­nity are the themes that brought this mu­ral to life.”

The mu­ral in the Waipu Cove camp­ground is part of a se­ries of mu­rals. “The fea­tured sec­tion de­tails Waipu's Scot­tish her­itage and the in­cred­i­ble mi­gra­tion from Scot­land. Im­agery in­cludes local and his­tor­i­cal iden­ti­ties, [such as Robert Louis] Steven­son.”

Mar­i­lyn An­drews

Mar­i­lyn An­drews has been paint­ing mu­rals for more than two decades. She says the range of colours lets her cre­ate “a dy­namic or sub­tle com­po­si­tion as needed, plus I en­joy mix­ing my own colours from the test­pots. It gives huge ver­sa­til­ity.”

Her mu­ral com­mis­sioned by Nel­son Cen­tral School was in­spired by the his­tory of the school, and in­cor­po­rated el­e­ments of cul­tural di­ver­sity. “I worked to­gether with the carver from the local marae who carved the end and cen­tre pan­els for the mu­ral. There was con­tro­versy at the time over my use of colour on the carv­ings as it was not tra­di­tional. In the end most were happy with my choice of colours, and the way it in­te­grated with the mu­ral it­self.”

J onathan Grange

Air­brush artist Jonathan Grange is self-taught, and his mu­rals can be found around the Rod­ney District and on the North Shore of Auck­land. His work is a re­flec­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment sur­round­ing the art, such as na­tive birds or coastal beach scenes.

One of his mu­rals adorns the walls of the kid­die pool at the Glen­field Leisure Cen­tre. It de­picts an ar­ray of sea life, from a mother sperm whale and calf to pen­guins and baby tur­tles. “On one wall is a mini mu­ral of waves break­ing and a sun­set,” says Grange. “This rep­re­sents the sea as a harsh en­vi­ron­ment, and ul­ti­mately learn­ing to swim with progress will lead to open wa­ter and re­spect. I love us­ing Re­sene colours as they are so vi­brant and ver­sa­tile to use through an air­brush. Be­fore I paint a mu­ral, I get in­spi­ra­tion from the area it’s in, then re­search and fine-tune ideas un­til I'm happy with the de­sign.”

Sabine and Doug Ford

Through 42 traf­fic boxes and more than 19 mu­rals, artists Sabine and Doug Ford have been con­vert­ing Auck­land sub­urbs us­ing Re­sene colours.

Their work has en­cour­aged other busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions and the Waitakere City Coun­cil to have more artists work­ing in their ar­eas to beau­tify their streets.

Karen Beck­ett

En­vi­ron­men­tal artist Karen Beck­ett has painted mu­rals onto ship­ping con­tain­ers, bus ex­te­ri­ors, and build­ings.

Cre­at­ing mu­rals to il­lus­trate life ex­pe­ri­ences, work­ing and recre­ational en­vi­ron­ments, she of­ten works with Re­sene Lum­ber­sider satin acrylic, and en­cour­ages people to get a hands-on ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the art work.

Ellen Coup

Ellen Coup

Dan Mills

Dan Mills

Karen Beck­ett

Mar­i­lyn An­drews

Sabine and Doug Ford

Sabine and Doug Ford

Jonathan Grange

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