Visitors to the lake-side town of Taupo in North Island New Zealand are in for a treat since Graffiato came to town in October last year. Organised by Erupt Events the leading arts and cultural event provider in the region, Graffiato was a unique opportunity for street artists from across the world to work alongside each other in one location. It brought together eighteen international and New Zealand street artists who transformed dark unused exterior wall space in the town into vibrant pieces of art to be enjoyed by the whole community. It revealed the artists as passionate and dedicated members of the community, who all contributed freely their time and talent to transform public spaces in the town.
The exciting event took place over the weekend and was documented through Twitter and other social media sites, with spectators being encouraged to send in their photographs of artists in action. I arrived in Taupo three months too late to get involved in the build-up, but the legacy of the project lives on in the transformed public spaces. I ought to thank my boyfriend for picking up the Graffiato leaflet which contains the map and locations of each of the artworks. However I would like to mention here that he actually forgot to mention or give me the map, and it was only when we reached Waitomo Caves a couple of hours West of Taupo that I discovered it in the campervan. After a quick inspection of the leaflet, I decided it was imperative that we make a U-turn and check out some of the locations on the map. It was well worth it, and we even met two other tourists who had begun a frantic search after discovering two murals by chance – they were very excited when we showed them our map! The beauty of the project is that it can be enjoyed by all, any time and in many locations all over the town. The murals are impressive – my favourite is spot 4 on the map, giant illustrations of fish by artist BMD on the side of a building. It’s tucked away and quite hidden round the back, which makes it even more special when you find it!
Ross Liew, Graffiato Curator explains why these artists have helped raise the profile and public perception on the value of street art in New Zealand. “Street art is more than decoration. 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.”
Download a map and discover the art on the streets or Taupo for yourself here – it’s out there, go find it!