News, Events and Culture

Concrete underpasses to become canvasses for street artists

Thursday May 24 2018

Some of the world’s best-known current artists, such as JR, Banksy and Shepard Fairey earned their reputation on the street. Street art is a visual art created in public locations and has often been unsanctioned.

Photo shows local artist Gembol spraypainting a wall.

Palmy artist Gembol at work during last year's Little Cuba Carnival.

With the success of recent legitimate vibrant street art on previously barren walls in Palmerston North, Council is creating an opportunity for budding street artists to showcase their work.

The concrete walls of three underpasses on shared pathways on the Mangaone Stream will be available for street artists to use for a three-month trial. The underpasses are at Pioneer Highway, Botanical Road, and Highbury Avenue.

The locations will have a ‘Free Wall’ sign near them to indicate people are free to paint on them, and experiment with any style of art. The trial runs from 1 June to 31 August.

“An art wall is an internationally-established concept that has proven successful in making more creative spaces,” says Council Planner Keegan Aplin-Thane.

“The trial gives people free license to paint within the underpass and time to spend on their craft. We believe there’s a lot of untapped talent out there and little opportunity for people to legally paint on a wall. To get professional work as a street artist, you need a portfolio of work and this initiative could help kick-start some budding artists.”

The intention is that the art will change during the period. If it is successful, Council may look at introducing it in other areas or continuing to use the three underpasses as a permanent showcase.

“We know there’s already an issue with graffiti in the underpasses. We’re hopeful this initiative will encourage people to take their time and create some legitimate art. The other benefit is shared pathway users can also enjoy the art.”

Council will monitor the trial and review its success to ensure the new initiative does not encourage graffiti outside the designated areas.

“Council is really keen to try new ideas like these, but as always, it’s up to the community to embrace them in a positive way. I’d like to think at the end of the three-month trial we would be growing these opportunities for the city,” says Sheryl Bryant, General Manager – City Future.