Street artists painting the town technicolour

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013
street art
JOSEPH JOHNSON/ Fairfax NZ

SEE THE GULLS: Australian artist Anthony Lister has created an enormous artwork on the wall of Les Mills in the city centre for the RISE street-art festival.

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Street artists armed with spray cans and paint rollers are coming to the rescue of Christchurch's struggling suburbs and city centre.

Dozens of large artworks have been created on walls across the city this month with many more going up this week.

The RISE street-art festival has commissioned a dozen large street-art paintings in the city centre, while the From the Ground Up project has organised about 16 large artworks in the city centre and Sydenham.

Christchurch business owners and city leaders believe street art will help regenerate areas hit hard by the earthquakes and draw tourists to the city.

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said street art adds ''a whole new dimension'' to what the city offered.

"Putting street art in significant places in our city has the potential to make Christchurch unique,'' he said.

''It can create a real point of difference for a city and transform otherwise ugly buildings into an asset for the city.''

RISE festival director George Shaw said vibrant street art changed the feel of a city.

''If you paint amazing art on blank walls it brightens everything up and makes the place feel relevant and alive.

''That is desperately needed in cities across the world and especially in Christchurch.''

From the Ground Up organiser Jacob Ryan said about 20 New Zealand artists had created artwork in the city for the project.

''We wanted to get the city going again and make Christdhchurch a more interesting place. The aim was to brighten up the city. It has a real impact on this scale. Christchurch is the perfect canvas.''

Sydenham Quarter chairman Anthony Barker said street art had brightened his quake-hit suburb and attracted shoppers. 

The business association helped get permission for street artists to use walls in Sydenham for the From the Ground Up festival.

The RISE festival also includes a major street-art exhibition at the Canterbury Museum opening tomorrow. The exhibition will feature 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.

An Oi You! app for the festival can be found on the Apple store and Google Play.

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