Town centre mural makeover

Ross Liew with his huge mural at the Wynen Street pocket park. Photos: Matt Brown.

Parts of Blenheim’s town centre have been given a colourful revamp.

Grey walls have been transformed with colour thanks to an initiative by the Blenheim Business Association (BBA).

Artists from around New Zealand have been painting murals around town for the last few days.

The move comes after an idea by BBA members earlier this year to brighten up blank walls with an array of artwork.

Auckland-based artist Ross Liew stepped up to beautify one of the more difficult blank canvases – a corrugated iron wall in the Wynen Street pocket park.

“Painting corrugated surfaces presents a challenge,” Ross says.

“A clever approach to deal with it is to do something simple, and a lot of work I’ve been doing recently has been big and bold.

“Spray paint is a good medium for a surface that isn’t flat.”

Ross, who has been painting murals for more than a decade, says he concentrated on the rivers that wind through Blenheim for inspiration.

“It’s an acknowledgement of natural environment; using those rivers as a source for an abstract composition.

“It’s a really nice opportunity when you’re invited to learn about the location of the mural.”

Margarita Vovna, another Auckland-based artist, has been working on portraits of local children on a small wall down a laneway tucked behind café Hakuna Matata.

Her piece focuses on children having fun, playing and enjoying the environment.

“BBA suggested kids, youth and the next generation, and I was quite happy to go along with that,” she says.

“I really enjoy painting portraits.

“I will have two faces, and some botanicals in between.”

She says prefers the look of brushwork, and it resonates with her.

“It’s highly inefficient, but it’s natural to me.”

Margarita Vovna paints her mural of children behind Postie. Photo: Matt Brown.
Margarita Vovna paints her mural of children behind Postie. Photo: Matt Brown.

Margarita says being invited by the BBA is a good opportunity for artists to get involved in the community and express themselves.

Born and bred Cantabrian Guy Ellis, aka Dcypher, has painted one of the more prominent walls in the area – on the side of café Hakuna Mata.

“I proposed a New Zealand bush scene and they [BBA] were into it,” he says.

Guy says he’s been painting with spray paint since he was about 14 years old, and he always knew he would be an artist.

Spending the last ten years in Los Angeles, painting murals, Guy says murals give cities a voice.

“Christchurch is pretty good for it.

“After the earthquake, there were big ugly blank spaces – and the public got behind it,” he says.

“There are so many talented people in New Zealand.”

Guy says there needs to be public spaces where you can get out, paint and not be bothered.

“It definitely helps if you want to become an artist,” he says.

“You need practice.”