When we were in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, last year I was dismayed at the amount of graffiti we saw; it was everywhere. It’s a perfect example of how easy it is to take your local surroundings for granted – there’s very little graffiti in Wellington, and if any appears it always seems to be quickly painted over or washed off. There is, however, a lot of street art.
Street art is polarising and some would refer to it as graffiti. Admittedly there’s a fair bit of it I don’t like, but there are a fair few paintings, some that change hands for gazillions, that I would burn before putting on my wall. And some of the world’s most well-known artists are graffiti artists. Art is subjective, end of story.
Even if I don’t like some street art, I can’t help but be impressed by it. I can’t draw anything past a stick man, and even then he has wobbly legs and a head shaped to guarantee playground teasing. I have no imagination for creating art – at school we had to draw our version of an alien being and I had no idea where to begin. I still wouldn’t.
Street art takes many forms. Some of it is abstract in the least, and a fair bit in Wellington seems to have come from my long-ago art lesson. There are native birds on walkways, ballet dancers near the theatre, iconic rock stars and strange cat islands. It appears on walls, in doorways, even on a ship. It brightens narrow alleyways and adds colour to the city greyscape. When you’re walking in a Covid world it makes for a less visually boring city walk.