Turning Christchurch back into a street art capital of the world

Christchurch street artist Nick 'Ikarus' Tam has completed his masterpiece outside a central city hair salon.

As the inaugural FLARE Street Art Festival was finishing up over the weekend, Ikarus was putting the final touches on his latest mural outside True Grit Hair on Manchester St.

The mural - which features an eclectic array of video game and cartoon characters - is one of several created on walls and buildings across the CBD as part of the festival.

Ikarus aims to hit refresh on the city's reputation as a global street art capital - and FLARE was a good start.

The festival saw seven large scale murals created across Ōtautahi's central city and live performances from some of Aotearoa's best summer artists.

And it showed there is no shortage of talented artists like Ikarus in Christchurch, each with their own encyclopedia-like knowledge of graffiti art and flawless designs ready to liven up the streets.

Ikarus wants the city to become a kind of Mecca for street artists.

After the 2011 earthquake, he said more people became pro-public art, leading to splashes of colour appearing across the blank canvases which were holding up the downtrodden buildings. 

The joy and colour this brought to people in Christchurch after the quakes cannot be underestimated.

While Ikarus was working outside True Grit Hair, he said a woman came up to him to recall how street art had helped pull her out of a bad post-quake mental health slump.

She would walk around the central city just to discover the new designs popping up every day among the damaged structures.

Ikarus says the city's already strong street art scene is on the verge of being rejuvenated again as more colourful works are planned.

- By Geoff Sloan
- Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air