Opinions - and murals - black and white

00:13, Jan 16 2014
Collingwood St mural
SQUID'S IN: Belgian-based international street artist ROA’s mural of a squid on the wall of Whitby House on Collingwood St.

Giant sea creatures which have appeared on the wall of a new Nelson city building have the seal of approval from one Nelson lawyer, but another is not so sure.

Alan Heward, whose law office looks at the giant black-and-white drawings by the Belgian artist known as ROA, said they were a great feature of the city and had turned an ugly wall into a thing of beauty.

However, Tony Stallard whose neighbouring law firm is directly beneath the large-scale works, was not so sure.

Tony Stallard
NOT MY TASTE: Tony Stallard is not a fan of the mural behind him.

"I don't like it. I don't like either of them," Mr Stallard said of the playful seal above the entrance to his law offices off Buxton Square car park, and the giant squid emerging on the wall through the passageway to the firm's Collingwood St entrance.

ROA's giant black-and-white drawings of animals, birds and insects adorn walls in cities across the world, from London to Johannesburg and Fremantle in Western Australia. The campaign launched to bring the international street artist to Nelson hit its $10,000 target yesterday, said one of the two men who came up with the idea. Free House co-owner Eelco Boswijk said the money had come from donations from the public, businesses and the building owner.

"We've had anonymous donations ranging from $10 to $1000," Mr Boswijk said.


Mr Stallard, whose law office is crammed with works by prominent Nelson artists, said that while the ROA art was not his taste, it was not his job to act as a censor for the Nelson public as to what is or what is not art.

He said he could have prevented access to allow the artwork to go ahead on the building next to his, but it was not his role to act as a detractor.

"If a function of art is to provoke discussion and controversy, then I believe that the depiction of the seal and the squid will have done that, so perhaps it has achieved its purpose," Mr Stallard said.

He was mildly bemused at how quickly the project had come upon the city, which had removed the opportunity for greater discussion.

"That's the issue really. My personal view is that we have a number of fine artists in Nelson and in New Zealand and it's unclear why we have resorted to an overseas artist, as good as his art is. From a technical point there's no doubt he's brilliant but we didn't have a say," Mr Stallard said.

ROA appeared at the Rise street art festival in Christchurch last month, organised by Nelson-based urban art advocate and collector George Shaw.

He and Mr Boswijk then launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring ROA to Nelson to paint a wall. The owner of the recently constructed central city building obliged.