06 May 2014

Auckland's street art

A roller door in Galway Street - the matching scooter was a lucky coincidence
I’m a big fan of the way street art can liven up the often dull and dreary backstreets of big cities, and Auckland’s street art is a case in point.

Just one street back from the main shopping precincts, the building walls are featureless, often window-less and painted in drab greys and browns; the back alleys are littered with rubbish and the sordid reminders of furtive night-time encounters; and any hints at architectural design are replaced by utilitarian fire-escape stairways, delivery-entrance roller doors and industrial-size garbage bins.

Street art can be unsanctioned and in its worst incarnation, graffiti, can be viewed as simple vandalism but, in some parts of Auckland city, enlightened souls are choosing to bring colour to the back streets by adorning their buildings with gigantic explosions of colour.

During my photowalk around the inner-city streets last weekend, I came across a young woman in the throes of decorating a building with vibrant multi-coloured animals, legitimately I might add – she was wearing a mask against the fumes, had her own hoist to take her up to the upper storeys of the building, and was just finishing discussions with the building owner when I arrived.

Artist: Mica Still

Street art doesn’t have to be colourful. The clean lines of these black stencils on white walls work well on the offices of a design company in Parnell. In fact, the image of the man leaning on the post works so well, I did a double-take before realising it was an artwork.

The fencing around building sites is also a great place for street art. The hoarding surrounding the University of Auckland’s massive construction site in Newmarket is adorned with paintings by some of its top visual design students so acts as an advertisement for the university’s programmes at the same time as showcasing the artists’ work. And I found some striking artworks on a large apartment-building construction site in Ponsonby.

On a building-site hoarding in Pollen Street, Ponsonby
Of course, many artists welcome the opportunity to work on such a massive public scale – after all, what better way to get your creative talents noticed by as many people as possible or to make a visual statement than to have your work displayed on a grand scale in a public place. 

Enough from me … time to let the artists amaze you with their talent and their imagination.

More from that Ponsonby building site - these are in Crummer Street.

In Rutland Street, just around the corner from Auckland City Library. Artist: Elliot Francis Stewart

Native birds adorn a wall in Cross Street, behind Karangahape Road. Artist: Flox

In West Terrace, just off K Road. Artist: Jonny 4Higher

I had the feeling I was being watched in Gundry Street!

Is it art or is it graffiti? I left the car in the shot to show the scale. This was in Maidstone Street.

These power and phone utility cabinets have been brightened up with a little street art, in Picton Street, Ponsonby.

Proving roller doors and garbage bins don't have to be dull! The back of an art supplies shop in Gillies Ave, Newmarket. Artist: Sean Duffell