Taking to the sky to deter taggers

FRANCESCA LEE
Last updated 05:00 17/06/2013
Kate McIntyre, Colombo St mural
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ

PLAYING A ROLE: Artist Kate McIntyre was recruited to paint a mural on a building in Colombo St to help stop taggers continually defacing the wall.

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Canterbury's feathered residents are helping deter tagging in Christchurch's central city.

Linwood artist Kate McIntyre has been hired to paint a large mural depicting birds on a commonly tagged building in Colombo St as part of the Christchurch City Council's anti-graffiti campaign.

"I was looking for some sort of job, and on the job website I was looking at, it happened to be the only thing I thought I could do," she says.

The University of Canterbury fine arts graduate originally did her degree in sculpture and worked as a prop maker in New Zealand and in Melbourne, but Christchurch eventually called her back.

"As much as I loved living in a big city, I felt I was more of a small town girl even though I'm not sure if Christchurch is a small town.

"I did feel like Christchurch was a really important place to be in at the moment, and I really wanted to contribute in some way to the new city.

"I had heard a lot of amazing creative things were going on.

"It sounded quite exciting."

She submitted her design to the council and it was chosen by a panel.

Canterbury birds, both native and introduced species, featured in her design.

"I looked through a big list of Canterbury birds and tried to choose birds I had seen with my own eyes. It always helps if you are trying to draw or paint to have the scale. I chose sea birds and alpine birds and forest birds."

The mural, measuring about 2.8m by 20m, took McIntyre about 100 hours to paint over six weeks.

The response from the public has been very positive, she says.

"A person would stop by every 20 minutes or so while I was painting to say they liked it, or to say thank you for contributing to the city.

"I had regulars who would come by and watch me paint. I met a lot of people in the local area from business owners to people who were actually squatting in the city."

She feels murals help with preventing tagging because people respect art.

"I started two months ago and it hasn't been tagged. I even met some young people who have been walking around with cans of paint in their bags.

"They stopped by and said, 'Wow, that's really cool.' And they sort of asked me, 'Do you tag?'

"I said 'No, I don't agree with that sort of thing'."

Council community support unit manager Carolyn Gallagher says murals are a common approach to deterring tagging vandalism worldwide.

"The existence of an artwork shows the wall is cared for in the same way that keeping surfaces clean and clear of any marking does and will likely generate an element of respect for the work of other artists, whether working in a graffiti art style or not."

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- The Press

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