Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Street Art of Glen Innes, Auckland - Bradley Lane

All over the world street art has become a popular way of bringing art to the masses.  Many cities now have art trails showcasing enormous murals covering the sides of buildings -  Berlin has the Dirkenstrasse area, Zagreb has at least 15 giant sized murals dotted around the city, Melbourne has murals throughout its Laneways, San Francisco has the Mission District and, of course, England has Banksy.  Auckland, New Zealand has the Bradley Lane project in Glen Innes.

Artists: Askew One and Elliot Francis Stewart
Started in 2013 by local artist, Gary Silipa, who had participated in mural projects in both New Zealand and overseas and was determined to create a similar project in Glen Innes it has now been running for 5 years and is going from strength to strength.  During Auckland's annual Art Week artists work on the walls of Glen Innes using them as giant canvasses for their art. People come to watch the artists at work and to view an indoor exhibition of their smaller works. There are also art talks in the spectacular Te Aro Arts Centre opposite Bradley lane.

Artist: Component
Glen Innes is a poor, working class suburb and the idea behind the project was to add life and colour to otherwise blank walls and to prevent them being tagged or graffitied.   Known as the Bradley Lane project, for the small alley like street where it began, murals done by both local and international artists now grace many walls around the township bringing to the community a sense of pride.

Artist: Andrew J Steel
It is well worth visiting Glen Innes to view these murals.  I live only a few kilometres away and until last weekend had never walked the alleyways and back areas to view this art.  I was gob smacked.  Bradley Lane is a  scruffy, back-of-shops area, with rubbish dumpsters outside most buildings, a bit of litter lying around and a general down at heel air but, wow!  the art!  It is amazing.
Artists: Misery and TomTom

Artist: Elliot Francis Stewart

Personally I think Glen Innes is missing a trick.  This project should be promoted all year round and the alleyway should be tidied up, that is the least the artists should expect. Putting it more fully on the map would bring a lot more visitors to the township. I encourage anyone interested in street art to go, you won't be disappointed just make sure you walk around every bit of the town centre, murals are everywhere, even in hidden corners and walk ways.

To get an idea of the Bradley Lane project scroll through just a few of the  murals below.  

Artist: Graffiti Murals

Artist: Berst
Artist: Gary Silipa

Artist: Elliot Francis Stewart
Artist: Beck Wheeler
Artist: Dside
Graffiti artist competing in a competition outside Glen Innes' stunning Te Aro Arts Centre

Sadly, Bradley Lane is the back area of shops and small businesses so some of  the murals are partially obscured by dumpsters and rubbish bins.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Waiheke Island - a jewel in Auckland's crown

It's a dilemma a lot of families must face - where to go on holiday when you have a small child who gets car sick just driving across your own city.  Luckily we have Waiheke Island, just 21.5 kms by sea from  our homes in Auckland so it was a no-brainer.  You can get there by passenger ferry from downtown, which takes around 40 minutes, or go, as we did, by car ferry which takes closer to an hour.  The car sick prone grandson was excited about "the boat that takes the car", had no tummy troubles and loved the whole adventure. We were off to a great start.
And we're off!
The minute you land on Waiheke you know you are on an island...life becomes slower, more relaxed, its 40 kilometres of golden sand beaches beckon, the narrow roads ensure you drive at a more leisurely pace and the stresses of the city seem to simply melt away. It's great, just an hour from Auckland and you are in another world.

 The island has long been the hangout of artists, eccentrics, writers and alternative life stylers and there's still a bohemian vibe about the place, despite the fact that over the last 20 or so years increasing numbers of affluent Aucklanders and ex patriots have 'discovered' it. Now millionaires mansions nestle side by side with small artists shacks in a happy melting pot of island dwellers. Of the 9500 or so permanent residents around a 1000  commute to Auckland for work.  The 21 kilometre long island really is a place of two halves.  The western side is well populated with a great choice of beaches, restaurants, vineyards, and trendy shops, perfect for holiday makers to fritter the days away.  The eastern side of the island is mainly agricultural and more like the Waiheke I knew as a child; quiet, rural, and like the whole island, incredibly beautiful.

Oneroa Village has cafes bars, restaurants, shops, art galleries and stunning views

Yours truly at Wild on Waiheke
NB: They are not all mine!
A plump kereru in our garden
We rented a house with an expansive view over a nature reserve prolific with birdlife so enjoyed daily visits from beautiful native birds including tui and kereru (wood pigeons). With two small children in tow our days were spent mainly at the beach, building beach pools and sand castles, splashing in the shallows, and surfing in the small rollers breaking on the shore. Other times we  slurped on ice creams, settled for afternoon snoozes or fired up the barbecue and generally just hung out enjoying a glass of wine, the adults, that is!  One afternoon we visited Wild on Waiheke, a vineyard which offers wine and beer tastings, clay pigeon shooting, archery, and a children's playground. Tasting wine while watching happy children play is a great way to spend an afternoon.

 There are plenty of coffee bars on the island, all offering a delicious brew.  In the main village of Oneroa you are spoilt for choice.   Oneroa hums with visitors, (the island's population doubles in the holiday season), and the views from the main street are spectacular but at times its a bit too busy so coffee at the quaint Omiha Hall, in Rocky Bay, a quiet, more rural part of the island, is the ideal spot to just stop and smell the roses, metaphorically speaking.
Oneroa Grocer

Saturday Morning Ostend Market

If you want a taste of what some of the island's resident artists and writers have to offer go to the Saturday morning Ostend market, you'll be sure to pick up some good books, crafts or  sample some tasty snack food. Just down the road is a large, well stocked supermarket.

Years ago I used to enjoy a series of travel books which came under the title of "How to Get Lost and Found in....." The author, John McDermott, used to refer the coming of  city style services to holiday spots  as "The goodie, damn syndrome".  Goodie, you could now get everything you were used to getting at home and, damn, because now the holiday spot was losing some of its attraction as an off-the-grid, out-of-the-way, make-do spot.  I know what he meant, nevertheless it was mighty handy to pop into the supermarket for supplies.

Oneroa Beach
Waiheke truly is a magic destination.  It offers everything for a good holiday - food, wine, beaches, bush walks, art galleries and much more. When you have lived nearby and visited regularly over the years you can take a place for granted but because it was new to the children I saw it through fresh eyes and fell in love with it again.  Conde Naste, listed it as the 4th best island in the world in 2016, and Lonely Planet  listed it as the 5th best region in the world in 2016, so you just know that this is a place worth visiting.  I just hope that with the ever increasing number of tourists the island doesn't lose its charm.

Daughter-in-law and grandchildren building a beach pool at Palm Beach

So, thanks to my car sick prone grandson, we really did have the perfect family holiday and will certainly return.