Christchurch ranked as a global street art capital in new Lonely Planet book

Source: Stuff Credit: Charlie Gates

Rone’s work on Worcester St is one of many Christchurch mural featured in the Lonely Planet Street Art book. Photo: Dean Kozanic

Christchurch is ranked alongside New York, Barcelona, Berlin and London as one of the street art capitals of the world in a new Lonely Planet book.The book names Christchurch as one of 39 cities around the world with a rich street art scene.

It credits the birth of the Christchurch street art scene with the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes and the RISE street art festival and exhibition in 2013.

Australian street artist, Rone, creating the work on a wall on Worcester Street in 2013. Photo: Dean Kozanic

“The contemporary street art scene was born out of tragedy,”  the book states.“Street art has become a vital part of the energy of the rejuvenated city.”

The book features images of Rone’s artwork on Worcester St, Anthony Lister’s seagulls mural on Cashel St, Seth’s artwork on Falsgrave St and Buff Monster’s artwork on Durham St South.

A work by Buff Monster on the St Asaph and Durham St corner created for the Spectrum street art festival. Photo: Dean Kozanic

Nelson art collector George Shaw organised the first street art festival in Christchurch in 2013 through his Oi You! business. He built the show around his collection of 22 artworks by British street artist Banksy and commissioned new works on city centre walls.It became the most visited show in Canterbury Museum history. The event then moved to the YMCA on Hereford St for shows in February and December 2015.

Shaw has since fallen out with the YMCA and taken his collection to a festival in Tauranga.

Buff Monster begins work on the piece on Durham Street in 2015. Photo: Kirk Hargreaves

Art historian Reuben Woods, who studied post-quake street art in Christchurch for his PhD, said the city deserved to be included in the book.“At this stage you can still say the city has a fair claim, but the next few years will be really crucial in terms of whether it keeps going,” he said.

“I think there are people who believe in it and want to keep it going.”

But he said it would be challenging to maintain the reputation as the city rebuilds and in the absence of Shaw’s festival.

“We’ve had this exciting period of time, but it will take a lot of effort to fill gaps left by the departure of Oi You!. There are also questions about the place for these artworks in the rebuilt city.”

Street art by Seth on Falsgrave St. Photo: John Kirk-Anderson

The book’s author, Ed Bartlett, writes in the foreword that Christchurch is one of 39 key cities in the world to “experience street art”.“This book is intended as a starting point to your journey,” he wrote.

“Highlighting a selection of some of the key cities around the world to experience street art today, and providing guides to each city’s street-art hotspots to enable you to explore further.”

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