Taggers give graffiti-spoiled site a legal facelift

PIERRE CHANGUION
Last updated 05:00 08/10/2012
Graffiti artists
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
FREE FLOW IDEAS: Graffiti artists work on a wall in New Brighton.

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A dirty and deserted area of New Brighton Mall mostly frequented by amateur taggers and other loiterers was this weekend given the ultimate spruce-up in preparation for a rock concert.

Eight respected tag artists tackled 200 square metres of wall space in the courtyard behind Couplands bakery.

Organiser Paul Zaanen said the concept of a "legal wall" took a positive approach to give young graffiti artists a sense of involvement, development and opportunity that would "ultimately instill pride and a desire to hone their craft" beyond tagging and into large-scale work.

"The prohibition approach to tagging isn't working. We need an outlet for the young. Telling them they're not allowed to do something doesn't instill respect," he said.

The project, named Respect and the Streets, will be ongoing at the site and extend beyond the concert on Saturday, October 20.

Nick "Ikarus" Tam, one of the professional taggers involved, said the goal was to turn it into Christchurch's first ongoing legal graffiti area for youth who want a legitimate area to practise their skills in.

"I come from the same beginnings as a lot of these guys and without some of the opportunities I've been given, my life could be a very different thing," he said.

The lineup for the rock concert includes national and local acts Cornerstone Roots, TAOS, Soul System and Aleon. Tickets for the R18 event, which will have a full bar licence, are being sold at New Brighton cafes.

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