Street artist calls for public canvas

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 12:10 23/04/2011

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The artist who created the monkey pasted up on a wall near Nelson's Elma Turner library is calling for a dedicated area where young street artists can legally put up their work.

Digby Sharples revealed himself as the artist behind the character after it was featured in a story in Tuesday's Nelson Mail.

Mr Sharples said he came from a family with artistic connections and had been doing street art since 2005.

He said he was not following Melbourne-based artist "the Urban Cake Lady" who had pasted a piece of artwork on the footbridge over the Maitai River near the Riverside Pool, as he had never heard of her until she was featured in the Nelson Mail.

"I'm not a follower. I do what I do, when I do it, completely for my enjoyment. Nothing else."

However, he had decided to do the monkey art work as a test after reading that the Nelson City Council had changed a policy to allow it to accommodate street art.

"I'm just testing the waters, before it starts to get hammered out there," Mr Sharples said.

The city council changed its art policy to accommodate street art earlier this month, to allow the work to stay without it being removed as graffiti.

Mr Sharples said he had done some work on the tunnels and other concrete, mainly out towards Richmond, but this was usually quickly painted over.He liked that artwork that could be pasted up could be done at home and then pasted up as it allowed someone else to paste up the work he had done.

A friend "Kach" had done a work which had been pasted to the Collingwood St bridge, based on designs from wallpaper on the same night as his monkey went up, he said.

He got inspiration for the monkey after seeing the monkey character Mojo Jojo in the show Powerpuff Girls he was watching with his son.

"I'm going through a stage where it's all about the eyes," he said.

Mr Sharples said there was a lot of people into street art and young people needed a place where they could do it legally, so they could develop their skills.

People needed a big surface to play with. He believed other areas in New Zealand had dedicated spaces.

Nelson had a lot of talented people who needed an area to develop their skills.

Mayor Aldo Miccio said council staff had the delegated power to decide whether the artwork could remain, and if they had problems deciding it would be referred to the Urban Design Panel.

The Mail article on Mr Sharples' artwork attracted a number of comments on its website. Comments ranged from a large number who liked the work and said it was better than a blank concrete wall, to others who said the work was graffiti, illegal and should be removed.

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"Stealthy Moose" said the work would be a test for the council as it would have to set the tone.

Another person questioned how Mr Sharples could try to be underground and then start plastering his name on media webpages.

- The Nelson Mail

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