News | 15 February 2016

Phlegm in the city

One of international street art’s leading lights will be leaving his mark on Wellington this month.

A cartoon head with white mechanical drawings inside.

In Wellington for the first time as part of the inaugural Vivid Wellington street art festival and the Fringe – street-art luminary Phlegm will be busy creating a new piece for the back wall of Walrus Gallery on Jessie Street near the corner of Taranaki Street.

Known for his intricate large-scale black and white paintings, Sheffield-based artist Phlegm began as an illustrator, producing his own handmade comics and zines. Eventually he began to reproduce the fantastical worlds of his imagination on a larger scale, transforming the walls of Sheffield’s decaying steel factories and warehouses.

While street art sometimes suffers from connotations of illegal graffiti or unethical activity, Vivid’s kaupapa is all about mentoring young street artists, helping them to advance their practice in legal ways, and showing them that street art can lead to a successful career in the arts.

“And this is where Phlegm comes in, who’s work can now be seen all over the world on everything from planes to boats to grain silos,” says Vivid organiser Bruce Mahalski. “The artist will be sharing his experience and expertise with local street artists.”

“Phlegm, is one of the most interesting, talented and prolific street artists of our time. This will be the first time an internationally renowned street artist of his calibre will paint a public artwork in the capital. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does.”

For those who want to see what our talented local artists are made of there’ll be two other sites around the city undergoing transformations in locations highlighted on the Vivid digital map. The programme also features an exhibition at Thistle Hall, a showing of DREGS: a NZ street art documentary also at Thistle Hall and artist talks.

Late last year Vivid organisers launched what they hope will be an annual festival, commissioning visiting French artist POLAR, to produce an artwork that features on the Ghuznee Street Wilson's Carpark wall.

“Art is a vital part of any society, no matter what form it takes,” says Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Portfolio Leader for Economic Growth and Arts. “I’m excited to see street art becoming a celebrated part of the landscape in Wellington, and the fact that we’ll have four new works by the end of the month, including one by a world-renowned artist, is huge. Vivid is a testament to Wellington’s innovative arts community”.

Phlegm’s visit to Wellington is supported by Wellington City Council.

Vivid Wellington Street Art Festival
15–21 February 2016