A body paint artist who created a woman's risqué costume for the Napier Art Deco Festival's Vintage Car Parade says she welcomes the controversy it created.
Alesha Hunt, better known as Cherry Boomb, took to the streets of Napier dressed as the Spirit of Napier statue in Greenmeadows-based artist Cherie Meerlo's custom-designed outfit.
Organisers of the event said on Sunday they were "disappointed" with Hunt's choice of attire for the family-friendly parade.
Meerlo, owner of Meerlo Creations, said body art was something that could be appreciated by all ages and she welcomed the controversy.
"To me, body art is two complementary processes – the painting and the performance," she said. "It's appropriate anywhere, anytime, anyplace.
"Art should be provocative and provoke something in everyone and that's what it did. Banksy's artwork works more with controversy.
"When the hammer goes down in auction, it doubles in price."
British-based street artist Banksy rose to fame in the 90s for his controversial and satirical pieces on public buildings around the UK.
Meerlo added: "You've got to have controversy in art to become a forefront leader. Maybe I am just the forefront leader. Maybe I'm the Banksy of Napier."
Hunt, a 32-year-old burlesque performer, said she knew she'd get a mixed reaction to her painted-on outfit, but just wanted to bring some fun and glitter to the day.
"I totally understand that what I did totally pushed the boundaries and is not for everyone. But I didn't do it for other people – I did it for myself.
"I love the fact the older generation got the concept, applauded me and asked for photos."
Hunt added: "Nobody was too provocative or anything like that, which I definitely didn't want. It is art, it is not meant to be sexualised."
Art Deco Trust fundraising and communications manager Steph Kennard said Cherry Boomb's appearance at Napier's Art Deco Festival was not an official one.
"Her limited presence in the Vintage Car Parade was not officially sanctioned," Kennard said.
"The trust is disappointed anything would detract from the enjoyment of the Parade as a family-friendly event."
Meerlo, who described art as "subjective", said art isn't just for hanging on the walls of galleries.
"Body art is an art form, and where should you see art? Not just in a gallery. It's a living art form that can be paraded.
"I don't paint a person to put it on a wall; I paint a person to become a performance. She is entitled to walk around – she's a free person."
Meerlo added: "Body art should create a reaction - that is what art is all about."
Her costume, or lack of, also caused a stir on social media, with one Facebook user describing it as "disgraceful".
Another Facebook user said: "Seriously, how is that expectable? Wouldn't have my kids around that that's for sure."
Another added: "All about her making a disgraceful spectacle of herself at what is a usually great family event. Certainly not what the spirit of Napier is about."