Street art map: Pinning life to Chch

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013

Christchurch city centre, already blossoming with street art, will soon be populated with people in the form of statues, paintings and sculptures.

Today The Press is launching a special online art map to track, record and celebrate the city's growing street scene and promote a new public art intiative by the Christchurch Art Gallery.

This art map will act as a virtual gallery and tour guide for the city's public and street art.

Readers are invited to contribute by emailing an image of street art, together with the location, to reporters@press.co.nz and it will be added to the living pin map.

A new public art initiative from the Christchurch Art Gallery has seen about a dozen artists invited to help repopulate the city centre with their creations.

Director Jenny Harper said the new residents could range from sculptures of people on rooftops to portraits on billboards.

"People are kind of missing. It will be really good to bring faces and figures to the strangeness of the depopulated inner city. We want to populate the city with images of people," she said.

Christchurch's new population will start to arrive in the city centre between now and the 10th anniversary of the new gallery building on May 10.

The new artworks are part of Christchurch's growing public art scene as institutions and artists take to the streets in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes.

The gallery commissioned 17 pieces of public art in 2012, using the city as exhibition space in response to the indefinite closure of their Montreal St headquarters.

Street artists have also flourished in the new city, with the earthquakes creating new canvases for the creative community in the absence of art galleries.

Harper said artists would always find ways to be creative.

"Creative people are not going to stop being creative because the places they normally show in are down and out," she said.

"There is no question that the city has provided artists and creative people with a fascinating series of spaces which have been filled in different ways. The city looks so dull and grey and empty and dusty. People want to fill that."

Reuben Woods is completing a masters on street art at the University of Canterbury. He said it could be hard to sustain the city's lively new street art scene.

"There is always a problem of retaining creative people in the city. There are numerous street artists that have left the city. It is difficult to sustain a scene with people leaving, especially when a thriving scene like Melbourne is just a flight away."

Gap Filler director Coralie Winn said the new street art scene was about more than beautifying the city.
"It goes further than that. It is about questioning what is going on and thinking about the city in new ways."

"I think of the city as a canvas for creative intervention. The fact that more and more people are feeling like they want to comment and engage is really good because it shows people are interested in the city."

- The Press

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