Mural brightens up graffiti zone

01:52, Nov 16 2012
julie wilson mattt lawrey
IN LIVING COLOUR: Project manager Matt Lawrey, left, and artist Julie Wilson share a celebratory high five in front of the new Emano Street mural.

Victory resident Matt Lawrey walked, drove or pedalled past a blank wall on Emano St every day.

It was one of the few walls in Victory that still got tagged, and the Nelson Mail journalist decided a mural would stop people scribbling on it. He also knew just the right person for the job.

Mr Lawrey had seen works by Victory artist Julie Wilson in the community, in the form of four painted telecommunications boxes, and was impressed.

COMMUNITY SPIRIT: A mural painted on a Chorus utility box in Toi Toi St by artist Julie Wilson.

Wilson was commission to paint the "bland boxes" by Chorus, which is giving the artistic treatment to cabinets around the country.

A spokesperson said the project not only added colour to high-profile spots, but hiring artists was cheaper than constantly having to cover up graffiti.

Mr Lawrey ran into the owner of the Victory Square Pharmacy building, Rob McKegney, in July and the Emano St project developed from there.


STREET ART: Another Toi Toi St utility box brightened up by Julie Wilson's colourful creation.

He got funding from the Nelson City Council's arts and heritage fund, Arts Council Nelson and Mr McKegney also pitched in.

Mr Lawrey commissioned Wilson to do the mural, which represented "what used to be in the area before people turned up".

He said Victory already had a lot of murals of people, including Darth Vader and one of the Men in Black. There was even one of Judge Dredd, but none of the natural environment.

Wilson's mural was "a little bit different" and he was "thrilled" with the finished product.

Wilson said the 9-metre by 4m wetland scene took about 40 hours, and painting on the rough-cast surface proved tricky.

"It really ate through my brushes. It wore them right through," she said.

She said she enjoyed working on public projects, because it meant she got to interact with the community.

"The best thing about it for me is having the opportunity to do something within my own community, and getting to know everyone. It has been really cool," she said.

Wilson, who studied art and design at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, said public artworks like the Emano St one were priceless.

"It just brings people together. I love it. I managed to put a lot of colour and light in there."

Wilson said she had always been a painter, and the other creative projects she had on the go included designing a logo for the East Street Cafe and Bar in Nelson, designing T-shirts for her band, and painting ceramics.

She said she took the plunge into being a full time artist a few months ago, "and it has been working out".

"There's always something going on. I think I was born drawing. It's an extension of who I am," she said.