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  • Writer's pictureHelen English Artist

Making a visual impact

Updated: May 2, 2021

As a direct result of getting out and about this month, I found myself talking to a member of the local council arts and culture team about making more chalk art. I have been involved in a similar project this year and the ones proposed for this month were too good to miss. The first was about the Aussie-New Zealand Trans-Tasman Bubble, which opened on 20 April, and ANZAC Day, which was 25 April.

I submitted my ideas and got them passed, and off I went on two early morning stints. The walls which I decorated with my non-permanent murals were in very different areas of the city centre so I was prepared for different reactions and, to some extent, that was the case.

The Trans-Tasman Bubble artwork was in the medical area of town. I found two pillars on the building which I had permission for and sketched out my plan. Almost immediately I was asked by a professional-looking (very lovely) lady if I had permission to draw on the wall. Fair enough! It would be shocking if someone stood there and tagged a wall in broad daylight and wasn't asked that question. I explained that permission had been given by the owners and tenants, and she was happy. A while later, I had a less friendly professional gentleman ask the same and then shout at me without the chance to respond. Just in case you were wondering, I was dressed neatly and didn't, to my mind, look like a rebel who had decided to get my own back on the town, or anyone in it, by decorating walls without permission. He still wasn't happy as he left but I figured that is a part of the job.

The rest of the passers by on that occasion were very friendly and said that the artwork really added to their enjoyment of the day. I was pleased with my morning's work and had fun. It's really good when you feel that you have impacted people in a positive way, and that definitely happened with 99% of those who saw the work. The lady who represented the tenants expressed her hope that the artwork would not get washed away by rain too soon.

The ANZAC Day chalk art, however, exceeded expectations. This was in a shopping area of town. The tenants said that that they wished it could be made permanent and I had people stopping to take pictures and ask me about my art but, even more impactful, were the passers by who shared their ANZAC stories with me.. Those stories will live with me for a long time to come.

The chalk art had an impact on me in a different way to viewing the artwork of others, which is why I love making art. The month as a whole gave me a wonderful and invigorating boost. It showed me that, whilst I still absolutely love Instagram and the like for looking at what other people do as well as interacting with them, I really do enjoy sociable art!

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