'Hey, that's me, up on the wall'

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 10:30 27/12/2013
Kristen Apollos
Daniel Tobin
BIG IMPACT: Kristen Apollos, 17, stands in front of the street art by Askew that uses her likeness. 

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When Christchurch waitress Kristen Apollos agreed to pose for an artist, she thought it was for a small painting.

She never imagined her face would end up four storey tall on a city centre wall.

The 17-year-old was waitressing at The Colombo mall when Auckland street artist Askew asked if she would be the subject of his new artwork.

Askew is one of about a dozen street artists who have created new artworks in the city centre for the RISE street art festival.

Apollos was thrilled when she saw the finished artwork, which takes up a four-storey wall near Cathedral Junction on Gloucester St.

''It is pretty cool. It was a bit overwhelming. It is quite big. I wasn't expecting it to be that big. It is huge,'' she said.

She said she had already been recognised by people who had seen the artwork.

''Someone at work came up to me and had a photo of the artwork and asked if it was me.''

Askew said he chose Apollos because of her distinctive look. 

''When we go to a new town we seek out people to paint. I look for somebody that will have the bone structure to work well. There are looks that work really well with the style I use."

He enjoyed painting walls in Christchurch and was moved by the new ideas emerging in the rebuild.

''The atmosphere in central Christchurch is quite overwhelming. It was amazing. People are taking the initiative to make things happen, like community gardens and public artwork.'' he said.

''I used to find Christchurch quite a violent town, but it is a completely different atmosphere now. I think other cities could learn a lot from what is happening in Christchurch.''

WALL TO WALL ART

The RISE street art exhibition has broken visitor records after opening at the Canterbury Museum.

The exhibition, which opened last Friday, features one of the largest private collections of Banksy artworks in the world, work by international and local street artists, and new work by Australian artist Ian Strange.

The exhibition enjoyed one of the busiest opening three days in Canterbury Museum history.

About 7500 people visited from Friday to Sunday, compared with about 5000 for the same period last year and about 4000 for the first three days of the World of Wearable Art show in December 2011.

Museum director Anthony Wright said the visitor numbers were unusually high.

"It is amazing," he said. "It was good weather and we generally have lower numbers on fine weather days."

The exhibition closes on March 23.

About a dozen street artists have created new artworks in the city centre for the RISE festival.

Street artist Rone said his striking artwork created for RISE on Worcester St near the Heritage Hotel was a portrait of Australian model Teresa Oman.

"She is part Maori, so I thought she would be good for this wall. She is also part-German so I painted her when I did a wall in Berlin," he said.

RISE director George Shaw said he was "blown away" by an artwork created for the festival on Cashel St by Wellington street artists BMD.

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"They are the rising stars of the New Zealand street art scene. It is distinctive and intelligent and humorous.

"They are hitting all the right nails on the head."

- The Press

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