A vibrant mix of local Taupo talent and prominent New Zealand and Australian artists have been secured for the 8th annual Graffiato: Taupo Street Art Festival to be held in Taupo’s town centre this Labour Weekend.
International artist Handbrake, and established New Zealand artists Clifton Mulholland, GASP, Freak and multi-disciplinary artist Holly Rocck are among the headline artists attending the festival in October.
West Australian illustrator and TV presenter, Handbrake recently traveled through New Zealand documenting the country’s street art scene and was so impressed with Taupo that he wished to return as an artist for this year’s event.
“The artworks are integrated into the fabric of the town and have made Taupo one of New Zealand’s most unexpected, but definitely most noteworthy, street art destinations,” says festival artist Handbrake.
There are three local artists in the lineup for 2018, which is the biggest local contribution of festival artists to date - Puna Loughlin, SMYTH and FLWLSS.
This year will also see the biggest lineup of event first-timers since it began in 2011, with six artists new to the festival this year.
“Graffiato has provided the platform for many artists to take part in large scale public mural painting, who have then gone on to establish strong mural painting practices” says festival curator Ross Liew.
Over the years Taupo has accumulated a wide range of works from artists from all over the country, and with quite different artistic backgrounds. The inaugural event featured artists who had come from either graffiti or street art backgrounds, now we see feature artists who have backgrounds in disciplines like illustration, typography, tattooing and studio painting.
“Working outside at large scale is a challenge for those not used to it, and Graffiato provides a positive place to come to terms with those challenges,”
“The artists are all very supportive of each other, offering advice and help along the way if needed. It is an environment in which a lot of learning can take place” says Ross.
Puna is a local tattooist, graphic designer and artist who is mentored by Matahi Brightwell the master carver who led the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay. Puna's work is very much about Maori identity.
SWiFTMANTiS is from Palmerston North and is also a tattooist by trade, it will be his first time attending the festival. Another newcomer is Holly Rocck a designer, illustrator and typographer who has a background in graffiti.
We are also welcoming back artists who have painted artwork during previous years. Nat From The Mill, Clifton Mulholland, FLWLSS and GASP. GASP attended the very first Graffiato: Taupo Street Art Festival in 2011, and again in 2017. Clifton Mulholland has attended half of the festivals to date including the inaugural event.
“Graffiato has a special place in the hearts of artists that attend, due in part to the role it plays in connecting artists and the positive experience they have at the festival. It’s actually quite a humble event and this is part of its appeal.”Ross Liew
Following on from the success of last year’s opening night event, The Graffiato: Taupo Street Art Festival kicks off on Friday 19 October with the Artists in Action evening at the Suncourt Plaza outside Cozy Corner cafe.
Festival artists put a creative spin on the vintage drawing game ‘Exquisite Corpse’ where they each have 10 minutes to contribute their design, with the artworks auctioned off on the night. The evening is open to the public and drinks and nibbles will be provided.
From Saturday morning, visitors will have the opportunity to watch artists at work as they create their large-scale artworks over the three days.
“There’s a real buzz around town over this festival weekend – it’s a great opportunity for visitors to witness the transformation of the walls and engage with the artists as they work.”Towncentre Taupō general manager Julie McLeod.
With the growth in interest around Taupo street art, a comprehensive Graffiato: Taupo Street Art Festival Walking Map was produced in 2018 highlighting a selection of Graffiato’s ever-expanding portfolio of over 80 murals. Pick up a copy at the i-SITE and wander off the main streets into hidden laneways and discover this rich collection of artworks for yourself.
“Taupo has the widest collection of murals in the country where the greatest number of New Zealand’s artists are represented. It’s like a survey of our countries' mural painting scene,”
“There's no other city you can go and see such diversity of artists in one place” says festival curator Ross Liew.
Town Centre Taupo are also improving their environmental practices around the Festival in 2018 with arrangements being made to recycle the used spray cans at a specialty recycling facility in Auckland.