'Faces of the future' drawn large and bold

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 12:00 03/05/2014
askew one mural
MARTIN DE RUYTER and ALDEN WILLIAMS

MADE IT: Urban artist Askew One, with Nelson Central School’s Sofie Hobbs and Rex Johnston who were the models for the mural painted on the Morrison Square building on Selwyn Place.

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The faces of Nelson's future, two digitally connected children, feature in the city's newest street art work by internationally renowned artist Askew One.

Elliot O'Donnell, known as Askew One, was in Nelson this week to paint a mural as part of a prize won by Nelson supporters in the national Gigatown competition.

Askew One spent two days working on the layered mural on a wall of Morrison Square that borders Selwyn Place.

The mural is of Rex Johnston, 9, and Sofie Hobbs, 10. The children are part of Central School's group @gigacentral. The group is backing the Gigatown campaign and is making a video as part of the Gigatown schools competition. It also has its own social media Twitter account that backs Nelson's campaign.

Gigatown Nelson's Claire Aitkins said the pair were chosen as they represent the face of Nelson's future.

"What's really, really important for us is the Gigatown competition is about creating communities, real and online. We have been amazed at how the online community had grown in six months."

Both children were at an informal ceremony yesterday to mark the mural's completion.

Sofie said she loved the picture of herself. "It looks exactly like me." Her friends had not seen the image yet, but she could not wait to show them.

Getting picked for the mural was a nice boost for Sofie, who had a rough couple of weeks after an historic tree slammed into her family's Collingwood St home in the recent storm, badly damaging it.

Rex said he was "speechless" at seeing his image on such a large scale.

Askew One has also painted a black and white mural in his spare time for a coffee and beer in the Fresh Choice Nelson's Collingwood St car park.

He is recognised worldwide for his graffiti art. He is self-taught in graphic design, illustration, photography, publishing, directing and editing music videos and moving images.

Askew One said Rex and Sofie were awesome to work with. He had painted their portraits in a style that was faithful to his current work. The space had its fair amount of challenges.

"The wall got next to no sunlight for the whole time, so paint was not drying. But we got there."

Morrison Square manager Nona Jackson said the complex was delighted to have been able to offer the blank wall for the project.

"Offering space for street art is a great way for local businesses to engage with the art world and support initiatives like Gigatown Nelson and I am sure we will see more art popping up around the city in the coming months."

The Gigatown competition is a nationwide challenge run by Chorus, which will give the winning town ultrafast broadband.

Nelson jumped to second place in the competition, after it won the latest Chorus mini competition where campaigners created 30-second videos to show what the highspeed internet would do for their cities.

A video by Gigatown Nelson campaigner Michelle Lang won the competition, and an extra 200,000 points. Wanaka is currently in top place. To sign up to support Nelson visit gigatown.co.nz.

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- The Nelson Mail

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