Street Art Facelift for Taupō

( Taupō has truly broken its conservative reputation with the creation of 18 unique and vibrant large scale murals, created by a selection of New Zealand’s leading street artists who descended on the Central North Island town over Labour Weekend.

Entitled ‘Graffiato’, this unique Street Art Festival attracted thousands of observers who enjoyed the chance to get up close and personal with the eighteen invited artists – who had been provided with an abundance of blank walls and a weekend to create vibrant and colourful permanent artworks.

Curated by Cut Collective member, Ross Liew, the inaugural ‘Graffiato’ is a new biennial festival delivered by Erupt Events, Taupō’s Arts Trust, who also deliver the nationally renowned biennial ‘Erupt Lake Taupō Festival’.

“Graffiato has permanently changed the face of street art in New Zealand,” said Mr Liew.
“It was an outstanding creative collaboration by many of our best and most recognised street artists, who thrived on the opportunity to come together for an intensive and energising weekend of Street Art.”

“Street Art is more than decoration,” continues Mr Liew. “It is not surprising that the compulsion that drives artists to work with such a challenging site also affects the tone and content of their work. It takes passion to deal with the unpredictable nature of what you face when making art out in the streets. Public scrutiny, the rain, the wind, the unpredictable surfaces are just part of the challenge. If an artist is going to endure this then it makes sense that their work reflects the passion that drives them outside in the first place.”

An eclectic mix of established and emerging artists were selected by Mr Liew to participate at Graffiato, including those specialising in freehand, stencil, airbrush and chalk art techniques.

“Our guest artists have exhibited and painted all over the world, and now they have brought their truly international flavour to Taupō,” said Mr Liew. “We hosted artists from Russia, North America, Columbia, South Africa, England and New Zealand who each created standalone and joint artworks in their own distinctive style.”

Erupt Events General Manager, Kylie Hawker worked with Taupō business and property owners to secure the artwork sites, which are primarily in and around the Central Business District.

“Without doubt, Graffiato has achieved our goal of transforming the public spaces of Taupō and has left an indelible mark on the town,” said Ms Hawker. “It was incredible to watch our artists share their skills, talent and passion with the thousands of people who flocked to the art sites to observe the artworks developing.”

“It was also incredibly rewarding and heartening to see locals and visitors of all ages and demographics engage with our artists, praise them for their incredible creative talents, and truly appreciate the artistic integrity of the event,’ said Ms Hawker. “I have nothing but the hugest respect for our guest artists, such passionate and dedicated members of our communities, who freely contributed their time and talent to beautify our public spaces.”

In addition to the numerous permanent artwork sites around the Taupō CBD, Graffiato also included the delivery of a free workshop for local emerging artists.

“We wanted to really showcase the talents of our guest artists,” said Ms Hawker, “and provide our young people with an inspirational and aspirational opportunity to work alongside New Zealand’s best street artists. It was great to see fifteen young people, including an Art Student who had driven down from Tauranga especially, spend the morning learning tips and skills with TrustMe, Cinzah Seekayem and Tanja Jade, and working on a collaborative large scale artwork on the Tongariro Domain. These young artists then spent the remainder of the weekend as volunteers working alongside the artists and hopefully being motivated to explore a career in the arts.”

Some Graffiato facts & figures:
• 390 cans of ‘Montana’ professional spray paint used
• 280 litres of various acrylic and house paint used
• 250 metres of drop-cloth used to protect pavement areas around Taupo
• Over 400 hours of total painting time over the weekend
• First time ever in Australasia this type of event has been held
• Significant interest overseas, with news about Graffiato retweeted by numerous UK and USA based Street Art Collectives reaching over 100,000 followers
• 18 completed artworks, including 8 collaborations with two or more artists working together
• 1000 maps issued to the public within four hours on Saturday 22 October
• Delivered as a charitable community arts event, with no major commercial benefactors
• Graffiato is one of five new Erupt Events that are being presented in Taupō, and is set to become a biennial Labour Weekend activity.

Media Release 1 November 2011.