Art attack on Maitai footbridge

WHO DUNNIT: Urban art signed by Urban Cake Lady has appeared on the Riverside Drive to Shakespeare Walk footbridge.
WHO DUNNIT: Urban art signed by Urban Cake Lady has appeared on the Riverside Drive to Shakespeare Walk footbridge.

The spirit of a mystery artist known only as Urban Cake Lady, who has attracted a cult-following in Melbourne, has now etched a presence in Nelson.

River Critters – in the form of Red Riding Hood placing a calming hand on a wild cat while caressing the nose of a timid hare-like creature – has appeared on a footbridge along the Maitai's Riverside Drive.

The piece of street art, described by Nelson-based urban art movement promoter George Shaw as "just awesome", is signed by the Urban Cake Lady.

The artist's identity is a closely kept secret, but her (or his) mythical character in the red hood, described by a blog commenter as "undoubtedly some of the hottest illustration cascading Melbourne's streets at the moment", now features in Nelson.

The concept is similar to that achieved by anonymous British graffiti artist Banksy, whose urban street art will be used to inspire young Nelson artists for an art competition later this year.

The Oi You! Urban Art Competition, organised by Mr Shaw and first held last year was so successful it has prompted him to stage the event again as part of the Nelson Arts Festival, and open it to artists from around the country.

The resulting exhibition from the competition will also feature Mr Shaw's own collections of Banksy works which he brought with him when he moved to Nelson from England in 2009. They will form part of the core of the Oi You! Urban Art Exhibition from September 23 to October 24 as part of the Nelson Arts Festival set to coincide with Rugby World Cup events in Nelson.

Mr Shaw said today he first became aware of the River Critters piece in Nelson at the weekend. He has no doubt that it was created by the original artist, and not a fake.

"For some reason she – or he, no-one really knows – has decided to come to Nelson. The artist either has friends here, but for some reason she's been in Nelson and left us a present."

He said the level of skill behind the work made him look twice.

"When you look at the majority of street art, about 95 per cent you shrug your shoulders and go, 'all right then', and occasionally you see something that's really got it.

"I just looked at it and went, 'wow'."

He hoped that whoever was in charge of cleaning up Nelson's streets thought to leave it alone.

"It's too lovely to ruin. We as a city have to stand back and look at this and understand the difference between tagging and street art."

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