Sound Garden offers unique recycled beats

23:16, Oct 24 2013
Sound garden Christchurch
UNIQUE SPACE: Gaby Montejo sets up the Sound Garden with the help of his son, Santi.

Vicki Anderson talks to Christchurch artist Gaby Montejo about local arts collective The Social, the importance of new street art Random Acts of Music and banging the drum for accessible art.

The inner city rebuild is a noisy affair. The ear-piercing drill of jackhammers offering a jarring contrast to the all- encompassing background noise that is the sound of "twinkle toes" and friends nibbling away at undressed buildings.

Sound Garden opens as part of Festa at the corner of Colombo and Gloucester streets tomorrow.

Trent Hiles, of Greening the Rubble, who landscaped the site, came up with the idea for Gap Filler and enlisted local artists Gaby Montejo, Jason Ware and Tim McGurk.

"Jason and I were working on a project for Rekindle furniture and were asked to take available debris from destroyed houses to make robust instruments which we did, then Jason, Tim and I put our heads together and Sound Garden appeared," Montejo says.

The trio sourced unusual preloved and repurposed materials to make their unique instruments.


"I've made drums from giant pipes, children love them, they play them with their whole bodies not just their hands. Tim's made a xylophone of tubes that you can slap and play, and Jason has made a huge rain stick that's 3 metres long."

Sound Garden is playful and is about making your own sweet sounds as contrast to the sometimes deafening demolition noise scape.

At tomorrow's launch the artists will be joined by Muse's Random Acts of Music.

Random Acts of Music is a new form of street art contained in a roving caravan stocked with instruments.

In a public place, using accessible instruments, grooving happens with anyone who happens to be around who wants to participate.

"We'll start off playing a piece then Random Acts of Music will join in and anyone who wants to can make some sounds," Montejo says.

"After that the instruments will be left at the site over summer."

Following on from his recent solo exhibition at Chambers241 Gallery last month, Montejo is also working on a project for ArtBox, a group show involving 50 artists.

Called InBox, artists are invited to collaborate and each play around with a box to "make something out of it".

Alongside teaching art at Selwyn House School, Montejo's passion is The Social arts collective.

The group held the popular ArtBeat series last summer in Re:Start Mall.

He's working with artist Audrey Baldwin on ArtBeat's programme for this summer but, rather than one location, it will be "scattered around the city".

"The Social is an ongoing project, a mobile workshop caravan sited at either 165 Gloucester St or on the old Convention Centre site. It's an artists-in-residence programme, it is about site specific art."

Life in Vacant Spaces sourced the site and artist Lucy Matthews, part of The Social arts collective, created her sculpture People's People while in the caravan at 165 Gloucester St.

It consists of more than 60 concrete cast letters that spell out the word People, the letters stacked into a 1.5-metre-high pile. The work has been placed on many sites, including outside Cera's offices.

It was inspired by the Maori proverb: "What is the most important thing in the world? It is people! It is people! It is people!"

Montejo believes a lot of people are "still scared" to come back into the central city and that random acts of music and art can help make a difference.

"I'm hoping people come to Sound Garden, have fun and make some noise. It's for children to enjoy, too. It's not high art, it's for everyone."


Sound Garden opens, as part of Festa, tomorrow, 2pm, corner Colombo and Gloucester streets.

The Press