Art crowds reflect braver new Chch

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2014
Rise Art Exhibition
KIRK HARGREAVES/ Fairfax NZ

POPULAR: The RISE art exhibition at Canterbury Museum has attracted more than 100,000 visitors.

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The RISE street art exhibition has become the most popular in Canterbury Museum's history, attracting more than 100,000 visitors since it opened in December.

The exhibition, which opened on December 20, features one of the largest private collections of Banksy artworks in the world, work by international and local street artists, and a new show by Australian artist Ian Strange.

Museum director Anthony Wright said the "raging success" of the show had given him "an extremely wide smile on my face".

"It is the most successful exhibition ever in terms of visitor numbers and in terms of the lack of complaints. We have not received a single complaint about the show. I'm flabbergasted about that.

"I thought there was going to be someone that was unhappy with the museum doing this. I am so pleased that didn't happen," he said.

"This is about offering Cantabrians a bonus. Something bright and cheerful that responds to what we have been through."

The show also broke records on its opening weekend, with about 7500 visitors 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.

Wright said the success of RISE could indicate Christchurch is becoming less conservative since the earthquakes.

"There is an acceptance of change at a greater level than we probably saw before the earthquakes.

"That is a fantastic thing for a city going through a rebuild.

"We are taking our place in the great smorgasbord that is blossoming in the city post-earthquake.

"There is the potential for Christchurch to be the public art capital of the world. That is something that we would like to contribute to."

The RISE festival is the brainchild of Nelson art collector and festival director George Shaw, who owns many of the works on display at the show. Shaw has successfully hosted the exhibition in Nelson, Sydney and Adelaide.

He said the response has been "staggering".

"We felt it would be well received in Christchurch, but to smash all previous records is just unfathomable."

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- The Press

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