Bare grey walls provide blank canvas for street art

Marlborough District councillor Gerald Hope wants to replace bare concrete walls in central Blenheim with public art.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Marlborough District councillor Gerald Hope wants to replace bare concrete walls in central Blenheim with public art.

Fewer blank walls and more public art is what Blenheim needs, a Marlborough councillor says.

Gerald Hope, a former Marlborough mayor, is enjoying being back in council chambers but he is not keen on the bare concrete facades spoiling his lunchtime walks.

Grey walls, exposed as buildings in the town centre are demolished, could be lent to the imagination of a public artist "to open people's eyes", Hope said.

Large murals have helped to visually improve the vacant City Hotel site.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Large murals have helped to visually improve the vacant City Hotel site.

Hope wanted to take a leaf out of other commercial centres and invest in turning empty public space into enlightened areas of artistic endeavour.

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"I am a strong supporter of public art, with the landlord's approval."

Demolished building sites have exposed bare walls in central Blenheim.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Demolished building sites have exposed bare walls in central Blenheim.

Bare walls surrounding the old City Hotel site, on High St, would be a good starting point, he said.

Painted walls were less likely to be vandalised by unsightly tagging.

"Why not fill the large blank spaces on the sides of the new ASB Theatre with some mural art work that is big and bold?   

"Artwork in public spaces have opened people's eyes in Christchurch after the earthquake, and also in Dunedin."

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Napier was organising for artists to paint bare walls in the central city, he said.

"The old City Hotel site is empty at the moment and the site is privately owned, and it will be close to the planned cultural hub when the new library and art gallery are built.

"With permission from the owners of buildings surrounding the site it is an ideal place to invest in highly creative public artwork on a stark empty wall space.

"Perhaps the site could be the starting point of a public art trail which other cities have successfully developed."

There was increasing international acceptance for skilled graffiti art on public space, he said.

"It's a personal choice, as they say 'art is in the eye of the beholder'.

"I think it would work for Blenheim."

 - The Marlborough Express

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