“I think street art is important, as it beautifies a place. There’s a generosity in it because it’s something for everyone. It’s for the people,” – Zayna, Year 11, Naenae.
Last month, a group of Te Awakairangi rangatahi worked with Charles & Janine Williams from TMD Crew to create their first mural on the side of Atrium Cafe, High Street.
The programme leads up to a major exhibition at The Dowse Art Museum in early 2021 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the street art collective TMD Crew.
For the next year, three members of TMD Crew, Janine and Charles Williams, and Askew One, will be working with students from local colleges.
Janine says: “For us, it’s important to build the relationship with local iwi and young people who might use this as an opportunity to learn and work alongside us in the lead up to the show.”
“When we were their age, there weren’t many opportunities for creatives. So it’s great that we can work with young people, and get the support of the The Dowse and Hutt City Council.”
“If we teach rangatahi the skills, it can lead somewhere – it can become a way to express themselves, and could grow into a career. Many of our crew have gone on to travel and work on amazing projects, so we want young people to see that it’s achievable.”
“Our whole kaupapa is about creating connections between people and spaces, not just creating art,” says Janine. “We always paint stories that reflect mana whenua, we paint a narrative that’s from the local area.”
“It’s a chance for them to say this is where I’m from, this is my neighbourhood.”
Naenae local Zayna James, who is in Year 11 at Wa Ora Montessori School, signed up for the Street Art Mentoring Programme because she thought it was a good opportunity to “gain skills and make new friends at the same time.”
“I think street art is important, as it beautifies a place,” says Zayna. “There’s a generosity in it because it’s something for everyone. For the artist, it’s a good way for them to spread a message, and build bridges and build connections in the community.”
“The thing I like about street art is that it’s for the people, it’s available to everyone and it’s free.”
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” she says. “We’re so lucky in New Zealand to have these kinds of things offered to us.”
Hutt City Council Community Arts Advisor, Pippa Sanderson, says the programme aims to give young people the opportunity to work with street art professionals, to give them a sense of what a career in the arts might look like.
“Street art is more than a pretty picture, it’s about connection with the community, between people and the environment,” she says.
“Community mural projects help to make our city feel like a safe, vibrant place to live, work and play.”
The first workshop was held at The Dowse Art Museum from Thursday 16 July to Sunday 19 July. The students and artists spent the first two days developing ideas and workshopping concepts, with the weekend out painting on the outside of Atrium Café on High Street, Lower Hutt.
The second workshop will be held later in 2020, led by Charles and Janine, with a third workshop led by fellow TMD member Askew One taking place in the summer holidays.
The Street Art Mentoring Programme is organised by the The Dowse Art Museum and Hutt City Council.
Youthtown are also working with The Dowse, Hutt City Council, and the artists to support the students and provide transport to the workshops. Atrium Café, 215 High Street, has kindly provided the wall for the first student mural.