Dunedin: In the art of the city

Dal East's mural of Haast's Eagle on Dunedin's Street Art Trail. Other artists include Pixel Pancho's horse and rider, Dunedin artist Jon Thom's portrait and ROA's tuatara. Image / Chris Allan
Dal East's mural of Haast's Eagle on Dunedin's Street Art Trail. Other artists include Pixel Pancho's horse and rider, Dunedin artist Jon Thom's portrait and ROA's tuatara. Image / Chris Allan

Extinct for 600 years, the huge, ferocious eagle dives from the sky to its prey.

Haast's eagle was no ordinary bird and nor is this: it is made of twisted wire and as it hits the ground it disintegrates, a jet trail of fragments flying behind.

A tuatara lolls on its back, chewing its own tail.

Mysterious figures play a pipe organ; instead of sending notes into the atmosphere, they release kakapo and takahe into the sky.

Waka and a steam-punk submarine emerge from a fish's mouth.

Dunedin boasts New Zealand's first public art gallery and art society. These days, art has come out of the galleries and taken to the streets.

Two years ago, the city lured Belgian artist ROA to paint his unique tuatara in Bath St.

The ripples widened when the UK's Phlegm created a mythical creature with kakapo-like features in an alley opposite Rialto and embraced Vogel St's watery history with his work showing a fish swallowing boats.

Locals demanded more and street artists started to request invitations.

The potential for a unique, world-class street art trail in the city'srevitalised Warehouse Precinct was revealing itself to art fans and those keen on promoting and preserving its heritage buildings and areas.

A group of enthusiastic volunteers, Dunedin Street Art, gathered with the vision of inviting an exciting combination of world-famous artists and local artists keen to develop their skills in the public spotlight.

A Street Art Festival was held in October 2014, during which three international and six New Zealand artists painted 10 walls.

The collaborators committed to continuing to facilitate painting more walls around Dunedin.

Pixel Pancho's horse and rider. Image / supplied
Pixel Pancho's horse and rider. Image / supplied

After being inundated withinquiries for a guide to the art created for the festival, Dunedin Street Art has created a map, available to download or as a printed version at venues around the city.

Visitors and locals can experience these vibrant, whimsical artworks, exploring the city's historic and creative hubs along the way.

Currently there are 25 walls in the trail and the walk takes around 90 minutes.

Read more:
Dunedin: Southern charm
Dunedin: The scarfie who never was
Otago: Blazing a trail in the south
Dunedin: Scarfing it down in scarfie town

As well as 10,000+ followers on Dunedin Street Art's Facebook page, more than 10,000 maps of the street art trail have been printed.

The works have garnered significant international attention, with some posts of Dunedin street art walls experiencing more than 100,000 shares around the world, raising the profile of the city as a hub for arts and culture.

It has become commonplace to see people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds out enjoying the trail, map in hand. It has broad appeal and the interest fostered through this work will have positive spin-offeffects for all types of arts and creative endeavours in Dunedin.

The Street Art Trail defines the essence of the revitalised Warehouse Precinct: creativity and diversity; showcasing Dunedin's connections with the world; yesterday and today; and heritage-led regeneration.

The precinct has been described as a newly rediscovered treasure.

Spanning the few blocks from the harbour to Princes St, from Queens Gardens to the Oval, the former commercial heart of the city, its character buildings, slipped out of the public eye for many years.

Some buildings became derelict, others home to a variety of uses, and a few were demolished to create car parks.

Recently many have been strengthened, refurbished, repainted and valued once again. The council has promoted the former commercial buildings' revival and improvements to the streetscape -- including the street art trail. Its works are thought-provoking and tie into the history, the future, the buildings and the life of the precinct and Dunedin.

- NZ Herald

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