Whangarei Art Museum is currently showing, Here, now, next: Cracked Ink. a large-scale mural installation wrapping the walls of the Younghusband gallery.

Originally from the UK, Cracked Ink, has been involved in both the street and gallery art scenes in New Zealand for the last decade.

Cracked Ink's compositions explore attitude and expression, with a quirky character-based aesthetic that is strikingly monochromatic - a nod to his roots in graphic design. Conceptualised first on paper, the art work takes its final form organically on the wall, without a preliminary sketch and leaving no room for error. The result is bold and dynamic, easily engaging the audience.

Born in the streets of New York in the late 1960's, the Graffiti and Street art movement is one of the most enduring movements in the history of art. It has continued to evolve dramatically, with its scale of importance to contemporary visual culture still clearly on the rise.


Simon completed a Bachelor of Graphic Design in the UK before moving to Whanganui, New Zealand, where he currently resides. His work has featured in street art festivals around the world, including Australia, Canada, the UK, Indonesia and the USA. He has exhibited in various galleries throughout New Zealand, having formerly been represented by Sanderson Gallery in Parnell, Auckland.


"My name is Simon, I was born in the UK in a place called Blackburn. My artist name is Cracked Ink. I kind of almost regret it a little bit now, but I've been painting for twenty years and it's kind of stuck (laughs). So, for a living I would say I'm a fulltime artist. I paint murals and walls for a living and for fun. You know most of it - even though it's a job, is a total buzz.

I studied my degree in graphic design in my hometown and that's when I first started painting with aerosol. A new guy started on my course in the second year and he was into graffiti. I started hanging out with him a lot, we would be up until 3 or 4 in the morning, doing stuff we shouldn't have been doing, going out, experiencing and learning different things. I can actually remember the first time I went out painting - under a train bridge, trying to paint with cans having never really painted like that before (laughs). I loved it straight away.

I'd say for the first ten to twelve years of painting I used aerosol solely and was really focused on perfecting it. The graphic designer in me wanted to get the image super accurate on the wall - like I could with pencil and paper. That was a huge source of frustration for me for probably the first five years because it was never quite 'there'. So, I just practiced and practiced and practiced and consistently used the same paint. I've been a 94 guy for the past fifteen years. A 94 cap is a skinny cap - basically, in the end of it is a smaller dot and you can achieve really nice skinny lines. So, I use the standard 94 and something called a New York Fat - which is not super fat but you can get really nice medium to thin lines as well as really chunky lines, I use that for like - filling an area.

As my work evolved, I picked up the dreaded brush and started having a play with that. And I'm not foreign to a brush, it was just something I hadn't used for a while, and I love it now. I love painting with cans but it's a totally different feeling… I'll put on some high-octane music - it's just that vibe. I grew up painting to that kind of music. But then when I pick up a brush, I just like to knock it down so much so it's actually a lot more of a Zen feeling. I put on some real mellow beats and kind of get into that zone of trying to work the shades. It's a good feeling - both sides of it is a good feeling.

I spend less time these days just treading water. And if I don't feel like I want to sketch - I won't sketch. I think back in the day I would have made myself sketch but I feel like these days - I mean I love sketching and that's where it starts for me, the ideas are the most important thing - but I feel like I only do it when I want to do it now. Which is a really good thing. If you're trying to force yourself to create things, then don't bother … it should be something that comes to you and feels good. And I'm always doing something towards my art… always, it's constant. I'm totally addicted."

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