20 Feb 2015

Street art gallery plans for Christchurch

7:43 pm on 20 February 2015

Christchurch could have its very own street art gallery, if plans to transform the central YMCA go ahead.

Buff Monster, Durham Street.

Buff Monster, Durham Street. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

The news came as street art festival Spectrum, which opened last week, was held at the Hereford Street YMCA and around the city.

Spectrum included a collection of Bansky works, and street art from four New Zealand and four international artists.

Street art has become increasingly popular in Christchurch since the earthquakes, with quake damage limiting the number of art galleries in the city.

Vibrant, striking works of art can be seen throughout the city on the side of buildings, both damaged and untouched, giving artists a new canvas for their creations.

Street art by Owen Dippie, Manchester Street.

Street art by Owen Dippie, Manchester Street. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

Festival director George Shaw said plans were underway to transform the space into a permanent gallery to showcase street art.

The project would cost about $8 million, half of which they already have - $1 million was granted from the Todd Foundation and the YMCA has also contributed funds.

Street art by Jacob Yikes on Manchester Street,

Street art by Jacob Yikes on Manchester Street, Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

Mr Shaw said another $4 million of funding was achievable, as the Christchurch City Council and art and culture groups had shown interest in the project.

"Christchurch has the potential to become the street art capital of the world, and we are well on the way to achieving that."

Mr Shaw said Christchurch was already becoming a hub for artists which was giving the city a new identity.

"The city is the perfect back drop for street artists, building owners have to build within a tight budget which often means they have to use tilt slab concrete , not the prettiest material but it's the best canvas for street artists to work on."

Mr Shaw had heard nothing but positive feedback about Christchurch from visiting artists.

"Artists love coming here, the public welcome them with open arms and usually say hello when they are working out on the streets."

Local artist Jacob Yikes said it was cool to be involved in the event, which was well known in the street art scene.

"I'm painting around the city all the time, so having Spectrum here kind of acknowledges that."

One of the city's most active street artists, he said business was good, with building owners wanting murals painted to discourage tagging.

"If a wall is getting tagged a lot businesses turn to art to clean it up," Mr Yikes said.

He said one did not have to like street art to appreciate what it was doing for Christchurch.

"Whether you like it or not, street art is doing a lot of good for the city, it's helping us get back on our feet, we are a small city on the international scale, but people know where we are because of the art that is happening here."

Mr Yikes said it would be interesting to have a permanent street art gallery in the city, if the YMCA was transformed.

"It's a hard thing to picture because there is nothing to compare it to, but i hope it works out."

His work was showcased at the exhibition, which runs till May 10.

Dcypher, Welles Street.

Street art by Dcypher, Welles Street. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

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