Art meets music in graffiti showdown

On the Fringes of Society event organiser Jonny Waters (left) and street artist James Butcher get...
On the Fringes of Society event organiser Jonny Waters (left) and street artist James Butcher get brushes and pens ready for a graffiti showdown tonight. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
For Dunedin street artist James Buckner (26) the worlds of hip-hop and graffiti are intrinsically linked.

"Hip-hop is the voice of the streets visually and graffiti is the voice of the streets audibly. If you're not into hip-hop, it's like meeting someone who's into violin who isn't into classical."

That culture was what he immersed himself in during his upbringing, he said.

"My general personality is hip-hop culture. I grew up like that. All my friends are skaters and rappers."

His commissions include the inside of bars and restaurants and down alleyways.

Dunedin's hip-hop subculture hung "by a thread all the time" because of the city's size, he said.

He loved the work of some international artists who were commissioned to paint murals throughout the city.

However, he wished the money would be spread more to local artists.

"I love it, I respect it. At the same time, we're not getting called out. How often do we get emails getting asked? We would take half the price or less, and we're from here."

A lot of street artists started in the world of tagging culture, before maturing and securing paid commissions.

They would get points for "how hard the spot was, how suspect it was, the risk factor and how gansta it was".

Mr Buckner is one of four artists who will battle in an alleyway at the On the Fringes of Society event tonight.

The artists will get a board each and have 90 minutes to produce whatever they wanted using pens and paint.

Organiser Jonny Waters said the event tied in most of the elements of hip-hop.

DJs will play hip-hop music in the graffiti-laden alleyway during the performance.

"It's a way of expressing it all as one. Hip-hop is the main influence of graffiti culture."

On the Fringes of Society will be held tonight in the alleyway behind Suburbia.

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