Money sought to fund ROA's street art input

Last updated 13:00 02/01/2014

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Art enthusiasts are calling for like-minded individuals to cover two-thirds of the remaining fee that will bring an international artist to Nelson to beautify a new earthquake safe building on Collingwood St.

Whitby House, along with the medical centre on Collingwood St, are two new buildings that adhere to the earthquake code, but they do not suit the surrounding aesthetic, says organiser Eelco Boswijk Jr.

In a bid to resolve this problem, Boswijk, in partnership with George Shaw, have sought crowd funding to bring Belgian artist ROA to Nelson to paint the exterior of the Whitby House building.

"We do not want to stop the erection of these buildings, but we do want them to settle into the community a bit more."

ROA was known for painting birds, animals and beasts that were indigenous to the country that he was in, with his latest work being a skeleton of a Moa adorned with native birds on the side of the Christchurch museum.

"ROA has a week up his sleeve. I thought, why can't we bring him up to Nelson?"

The project will cost $10,000 and they have raised a third of the money, thanks to the donations of "like-minded individuals," he said.

ROA was available to start painting on January 13.

In the event they did not raise the money in time or find alternative means of funding, they would refund the money to all the contributors.

But such an event was unlikely as the chance was such a wonderful opportunity and too good to miss, said Boswijk.

"We will explore other options if necessary to plough on."

The question of importing art has caused debate among Nelsonians, with the Nelson Mail's art editor Judith Ritchie saying those responsible for funding distribution should think about what Nelson has to offer before "falling over ourselves to have a ‘famous' artist scoop the funds bucket for arts in Nelson".

"My Christmas wish would be that all of those in the position to divvy out funding and commissions ask themselves what is more important, name dropping three or four ‘famous' artists, or proudly standing squarely behind our talented, committed artists in this region, by giving them a slice of the cake?"

In a letter to the editor last month, arts council director Lloyd Harwood disagreed with Ms Ritchie, saying he wondered what the

Nelson arts scene would be like without input from outside artists.

"The Suter, Nelson Arts Festival, our wonderful music festivals, theatrical productions and writers' events would be quite different beasts.

"So maybe a few pieces of public visual arts from outsiders are not too bad a thing to add to our splendid cultural mix."

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Boswijk said while he did not have anything against the promotion of local art, in this circumstance having one of the world's foremost street artists was an opportunity that could not be missed.

"What we should be doing is encouraging people to beautify buildings, local or otherwise.

"I'm hoping this will generate more interest in making the increasingly more prevalent new earthquake safe buildings more palatable in our community."

He could not understand why there was such a debate over the division between local and international artists in Nelson.

"I don't only read local authors or listen to local music. How can we expect anyone to invest in our art internationally if we don't take it on board here?"

It had to be a two-way street, he said.

"We need to learn from outside influences to stay stimulated," he said.

For more information, you can contact Boswijk by email,

- Nelson


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