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Artists for oceans come to Gisborne

Global street art styles are poised to mix with familiar local themes and motifs when six international and eight national artists work with six local artists on a range of new murals for the town. At the heart of the PangeaSeed Foundation’s Sea Walls Tairawhiti project is the theme of ocean health.

The foundation held New Zealand’s first Sea Walls event in Napier in 2016, then again in 2017. The town now has more than 50 murals.

Visiting artists, welcome to Gisborne.

Gisborne, meet:

The international crewNevercrew, Switzerland

Nevercrew’s work focuses on the relationship between mankind and nature and on the relationship between mankind and the system, says the street art duo Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Togni on their webpage. The artists are particularly interested in “the effects of human attitudes on the environment, on social injustices and on the relationship between the concept and the forms of “systems”. The whale, for example, is part of the collective imagination and strongly linked to the past and present history of civilisations, says the artist.

“The history of the relationship between mankind and cetaceans is in fact particularly emblematic of what is still the relationship between systems’ policies and natural resources.”

The Nevercrew style is to “combine a simple graphic structure with hyperrealistic and formally complex elements, two-dimensional compositions and sculptural installations.”

Sonny, South Africa

Self-taught, British-born street artist Sonny is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. His most recent project, To the Bone, aims to raise awareness about endangered species and the challenges they face. A To the Bone mural in Miami features a Polar Bear half sheathed in sea ice standing on a circle of melting ice while, set against a fiery backdrop, an Amsterdam work called Embers depicts a tiger prepared for battle.

Ouizi, Detroit

Known largely for the profusion of colour in her floral designs, Detroit-based artist Ouizi’s “botanical-themed street art offers the surreal perspective of zooming in on the floral pattern of a textile print that has been wrapped around a building,” says the Detroit Free Press. “The techniques the 29-year-old artist uses are pulled from her background as a Chinese-American artist, growing up surrounded by Chinese watercolours and calligraphy.”

Pogo, Mexico

Little information is available online about the self-described artist/muralist/wizard. Pogo’s webpage shows imagery that mixes 60s poster psychedelia with surrealistic elements and optical effects.

Lisa King, Australia

Self-taught artist Lisa King began her career as a graphic designer but moved into painting in search of more freedom of expression. Known for her street art works across the Adelaide CBD, King has created a 1980s inspired mural on the front of the live music venue Jive, a portrait of David Bowie at The Maid Hotel and last year worked on Walls of Wonderment, a series ABC News described as a celebration of “the softer tones of femininity”.

King said she wanted to introduce a softer side to street art.“The street art scene is derived from the graffiti scene, which is very male orientated.”

Kai’ili Kaulukukui, Honolulu

Hawaiian-born Kaulukukui Kai works as a painter and muralist in Honolulu and more recently has acted as ground operations manager at the international marine conservation organisation, PangeaSeed Foundation.

His paintings and murals tackle marine life, often sharks, with a loose and flowing approach complemented with drips cascading down the work.

The national crewRebecca ter Borg, Auckland

Auckland-based freelance illustrator, Rebecca ter Borg’s eclectic illustrations depict a quirky, dreamy and stylish world. “Rebecca’s works are always sweet with a modern sass to boot,” says international rescue’s webpage .

“Educated as an illustrator, Rebecca’s works are boldly playful, rich in colour and hold a quirky narrative-like magnetism.”

Sean Duffell, Wellington

A graphic artist with Honey Badger Creative Studios, Sean Duffell’s large scale works show stylised, richly coloured, flowing, cartoonishly ornate, boldly outlined imagery that includes lush vegetation and tropical creatures.

Gina Kiel, Wellington

Award winning, Wellington-based illustrator Gina Kiel “creates feminine but strong images that exude sensuality and explore the human experience through ideas of life, death, spirituality and pop culture using flowing lines and forms and bold, minimal compositions with a psychedelic palette,” says the artist on her website.

“With a childhood full of music, nature, Disney movies and hours of drawing, Gina became an illustrator after working at a boutique animation company, drawing frame-by-frame at a light box, where she discovered her love for drawing body parts.”

Poi Ngawati

Little information is available online about Poi Ngawati except for a post on Facebook that announces his new job as computer graphic designer at Displayworks.

Cracked Ink

Originally from the UK, artists Cracked Ink has been part of the New Zealand street arts scene since he moved here 10 years ago. Trained in graphic design Cracked Ink is mostly an aerosol artist whose work is made up of cartoonish quirky characters in an atmosphere of manic energy that includes splatters, breakages, dots, dashes, bubbles and squiggles.

Cinzah, Napier

Cinzah works in an illustrative style that mainly focuses on character-based art. He explores themes such as childhood nostalgia, daydreaming, nature, travel and studies of slightly deranged city folk. In 2014, he was involved with a live painting project at Rhythm and Vines. In 2016 he took part in a San Diego Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans project, a PangeaSeed mural painting festival in Toronto and another Sea Walls event in Napier. He was also part of Napier’s 2017 Sea Change: Art for Oceans festival.

This year he contributed to Sea Walls’ mural painting festival in Cairns.

Nigel Roberts

Self-taught in the art of sign-writing, and self-described as the king of typography, Nigel Roberts (aka Dagar) is a co-founder of the Carwash Gallery and part of Young Gifted & Broke.

Kelly Spencer

Originally from Gisborne, now living in Wellington Kelly Spencer is an illustrative artist, sign painter and muralist with a strong typographic focus. Involved last year in the Chorus cabinet project Spencer’s vivid, typographical statement, “Kaiti” was spray-painted on a Tyndall Road Chorus cabinet.

Spencer is the coordinator for PangeSeed Foundation’s Sea Walls, Tairawhiti. For most of the festival, she will manage operations before heading with a small group of artists to Uawa-Tolaga Bay where they will paint murals.

Gisborne artists selected to collaborate with the visiting artists are:

Erena Koopu — Senior lecturer at Toihoukura, Maori visual arts school

Duane Ngawaka — student, Toihoukura.

Nolan Maru — student, Toihoukura

Te Arepa Teki — student, Toihoukura

Nick Tupara — Tupara Gallery owner and artist.

Leah McCann — artist

A map of the mural sites can be found on The Guide Facebook page.

A question of balanceIn a written statement, a PangeaSeed Foundation representative said the organisation’s kaupapa “focuses on building artist line-ups with a fair balance of ethnicities, culture and gender.”

The Guide asked why, out of the six local artists chosen to work with the national and international artists, only one is Pakeha. What message does the selection send about cultural diversity and inclusivity?

The statement did not answer that question. The Guide named six non-Maori Gisborne artists whose affinity with the ocean can be seen in their work. Were they also told of the project, approached or even considered?

A message from the organisation said PangeaSeed likes to give a platform to aspiring, talented, artists, and an opportunity to be mentored by international muralists, and that this was one of the reasons for their selection.

While we’re here— Submissions for the council’s art in public places plan close tomorrow.

Make a submission at http://www.gdc.govt.nz/art-in-public-places-plan.

— The Te Ha Art Awards will be presented at the exhibition opening tomorrow, 5.30pm-7pm, at Tairawhiti Museum. The inspiration for this year’s awards theme comes from the karakia Te Tangi a te Matui (The Cry of the Matui). The “tuia prayer” refers to intangible bonds established between people when they listen, unite and work together as one.

— The Sea Walls Tairawhiti mural project will be launched at Toihoukura on Saturday, 3pm.

— First Meetings Korero - Ten speakers discuss the theme “What can we learn from the October 1769 meetings?” Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club, Sunday, 3pm.






ORDERING MACHINE: Swiss street artists Nevercrew’s work focuses on the relationship between mankind and nature and on the relationship between mankind and the system. Pictures supplied