Eelco embraces all opinions

20:53, Jan 15 2014

Nelson man and Free House co-owner Eelco Boswijk is one of the men who campaigned to bring Belgian-based street artist ROA to Nelson to transform one of Nelson's new concrete buildings.

ROA is known for his black and white images of animals.

He also recently painted a giant moa on the side of the Canterbury Museum.

Eelco helped raised $10,000 to get the giant squid and seal on the Whitby House in Collingwood St. He and wife Ali also bought the historic St John's Methodist Church in Hardy St in 2012. It has become a performance venue and their family live in the parsonage.

He takes two minutes from his busy schedule to talk to The Leader.

You and street art supporter George Shaw have worked together to get ROA to Nelson. What was it like to finally watch his art work go up on the side of ?


A mix of pre-show nerves, excitement and pride.

What do you think good street art adds to a city?

A measurement of a city's wealth, social and fiscal, is the number of public artworks it contains. Good street art helps me accept a building that I previously didn't understand or like.

What would you like to see happen in Nelson as a result of ROA's artwork on display?

Lots. I'd most like to see people have a go at doing something they would like to see done.

Is there anything you would like to say to the knockers?

Well done. All points of view are valid and help us understand each other better but personal attacks are unnecessary, hurtful and unhelpful.

What do you most like about living in Nelson? What is one thing you would change if you had that power?

I love living in Nelson mostly because of my friends but also for it's physical beauty. I'd like to bring more economic self sufficiency and independence from big companies to the people of Nelson.

Old St John's hall and church have become an important hub in Nelson, especially with the closure of other buildings in the city. Has its success surprised you?

The success hasn't surprised me, it is a wonderful venue but the suddenness is a bit overwhelming.

If you could buy any old building in Nelson to protect, what would it be? Why?

Old St John's buildings are the ones that I really love. To think of another feels a little like cheating. I'd like to see as many of the old buildings as possible saved, largely because they give Nelson context and because they trigger memories and help me feel comfortable here.

As a craft beer supporter, what brews are you partial to?

ESB, IPA, fruit beers, witte, sour beer, a good pilsner, gueuze, winter warmers . . .

As a pub owner, festival organiser and owner of a collection of old wooden buildings do you have any free time? How do you spend it?

I try to be at home in the evenings with my family or watching a movie.

On Saturday morning I go to the market to get fresh treats for a leisurely breakfast with Ali.

What is one thing about you few people would know?

I'd like to walk to London.