James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

City council - and taggers - give thumbs-up to murals

Jeremy Shirley says he likes to think he provides a service to the community and the city through his art. Photo / Christine Cornege
Jeremy Shirley says he likes to think he provides a service to the community and the city through his art. Photo / Christine Cornege

Jeremy Shirley is spray-painting a three-storey building in downtown Hamilton - and the city council couldn't be more pleased.

The artist, whose works have taken pride of place at bus stops, underpasses and subways and on bridges around the city, has started his latest piece - a giant H - on a central Hamilton building, saying he wants to bring "some energy" into the CBD.

"The international street art scene is massive but it hasn't quite happened in Hamilton yet, so I am very lucky to work here ... it's the perfect location for such a piece."

Shirley says he saw an opportunity to create artworks in areas that are prone to tagging about three years ago.

He works fulltime as an artist with some of his efforts focused on beautifying the city and his results speak for themselves with few, if any, of his works being defaced by taggers.

"The work has to be cool enough to resonate with taggers and I think the graffiti guys recognise what I'm doing - they recognise the technique and the medium.

"I would definitely like to think I provide a service to the community and the city as an artist, as someone who goes around painting the streets or walls within the community."

Charles Flanagan, Tagbusters team leader, said the Hamilton City Council had an annual budget of $700,000 for graffiti removal, with $15,000 of that committed to "proactive tactics" such as Shirley's art.

He said Shirley's designs had appeared on 23 bus stops, seven toilets and the Melville Park Building and Cobham Drive Bridge over the past two years and the results had been very pleasing.

Mr Flanagan said that although Shirley's art work was far from asilver bullet it seemed to deter taggers.

"Jeremy's murals do seem to be having the desired effect - tagging has reduced at the sites where he's done his murals," he said.

"We have much anecdotal and verbal evidence to support the appreciation of the art, and believe the bus shelter murals have proven to reduce graffiti in those shelters.

"Additionally, it appears to have been a catalyst for other painted public artwork in the city."

- NZ Herald

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