Artist sought to paint city wall

WALL HANGOUT: Street art by Belgian artist ROA in Vienna.
WALL HANGOUT: Street art by Belgian artist ROA in Vienna.

A campaign is being launched to bring an international street artist to Nelson to create a super-sized painting on a city wall.

Art collector George Shaw and Free House co-owner Eelco Boswijk have hatched a plan to get the Belgian artist known as ROA to Nelson this summer, but they need the help of the community and a building owner to make it happen.

ROA's giant black-and-white drawings of animals, birds and insects adorn walls in cities across the world, from London to Johannesburg and Fremantle in Western Australia.

Mr Boswijk said the idea was sparked after he noticed several buildings going up in central Nelson with large, blank concrete walls.

"They don't really offer anything to the city," he said. "They are function over form."

He asked Mr Shaw for some suggestions and with ROA due to take part in Mr Shaw's RISE street art festival in Christchurch next month, the artist was approached about a Nelson trip.

"He is more than interested in painting here," Mr Shaw said. "He likes the idea of painting walls across the country.

Mr Shaw said ROA was one of the finest street artists in the world and to get one of his artworks in Nelson would be a great addition to the cityscape.

The two men have estimated the project will cost about $10,000 and are taking a crowdfunding approach to raising the money.

Mr Boswijk said 100 people would need to contribute an average of $100 each to reach the target.

"I'm sure there would be 100 people in Nelson that could all pitch in to make this happen.

"It's a great opportunity, and even though it's fast, sometimes good things happen when they are fast."

They also need a building owner with a large, blank wall, preferably in a prominent position, to give permission for the painting.

Mr Boswijk is seeking expressions of interest from those who want to help. He can be contacted by email on

No decision has been made on what ROA could paint in Nelson, but he typically drew animals indigenous to the country he was in. Suggestions have so far included one of our native birds, but Mr Boswijk also floated the idea of a giant weta.