Hidden in alley ways and under overbridges, Street art, in the form of “wheatpasting” is hiding in plenty of corners of the urban landscape for those who are eagle eyed enough to see it. Not many people know it well, but wheatpasting has increased as a style of street art in Christchurch this year. Internationally, this method of street art has become widely recognised, and brought fame to a few of those who do it. Such has been the case for Shepard Fairey whose Barak Obama inspired piece, Hope, became an icon of Obama’s political campaign. Another such American street artist, who goes by the name of Swoon, displayed wheatpaste works in The Museum of Modern Art. In spite of all this, in the eyes of the law, it is still vandalism. Wheatpasting, gets its name from the glue like substance, usually made from wheat flour, which is used to paste the image up. It is quite difficult to remove, however over time it disintergrates, and like other forms of street art, is a temporary medium of expression.
Tally Ho took the opportunity to talk to one artist, Dialone, who is responsible for some of the art seen around Christchurch.
TH: What encouraged you to start wheatpasting?
D: The concept that the street could act as an art gallery which was free to the public.
TH: How long have you been doing it?
D: Roughly 5 years now. The early years were very hit-and-miss while I tired to find a suitable medium to express myself and communicate my messages.
TH: Where does the inspiration for pieces come from?
D: Anywhere and everywhere. I’m a very observant person, always mentally noting events or significant items in my environment for future use because I’m terrible at keeping a notebook. Music and trying to get to sleep seem to be where my most potent ideas manifest themselves. My latest work which is still in progress is a campaign inspired by Boxi’s ‘Embrace’, a painting that addresses the them of post-apocalyptic grey romanticism. I won’t say much more than that.
TH: What is the process you go through to create an item?
D: Usually it would just be a process of note-taking and pushing the idea around in word form. This tends to lead to simultaneous sketching and concept development. After this normally lengthy process of development I’ll execute the paste-up with whatever materials I have around.
TH: Do you ever worry about being caught?
D: I used to far more than I do now. Wheat-pasting tends to be viewed as an act much less hostile than spraypainting. Maybe it’s because of it’s temporary nature or the fact that it’s just not as predominant as graffiti art and therefore people aren’t quite sure yet how to approach it. There are also plenty of golden excuses that you can actually save yourself with when wheatpasting as opposed to when using spraypaint. The majority of the time, passers-by seem to really appreciate the mark you’re making (judging by their comments).
TH: How do you feel about other forms of street art?
D: It’s become so diverse now. If we were to talk about graffiti art in general, I normally don’t have a problem with it. For me personally, I’m opposed to the superfluous ‘gang-tags’ that decorate every fence in Christchurch. But I’m completely supportive of the work where an artist has poured time, money and energy into the development and execution of a well-considered piece. Plus, there’s nothing quite like seeing a harmonious colour scheme splattered across a grey wall.
TH: What would you say to people who think its all just vandalism?
D: It is to a certain degree and I’m not going to try and defend it. They can continue to think what they will, I’d rather be creating than debating.
TH: Do you think Wheat paste will ever become an accepted form of art in society?
D: Hopefully not. But once consumer culture gets a hold of the aesthetic, (which it probably already has to some degree) people will turn their heads up at it a little less. Even if it does, as street artists we’ve got to continue to develop and personally I’m interested in subverting the techniques of advertising and pushing the boundaries of those even further to create a new breed of street art that advertising won’t be able to in turn, adopt.