The Paste-Up Project is a collaboration between local urban arts trust Watch This Space, iconic street poster company Phantom Billstickers (whose origins trace back to Ōtautahi in the early 1980s) and a selection of the city’s most prominent paste-up artists.
With support from the Christchurch City Council’s Enliven Places fund, the Paste-Up Project has transformed a central city Phantom bollard (located at 132 Manchester Street) into an installation platform for one of urban art’s most enduring forms. The profile and visibility of paste-up art has blossomed locally in recent years, in part through the efforts of the loosely organised Slap City Collective, an ever-growing and constantly evolving array of artists producing and disseminating stickers and poster-based art across the city.
While the diversity and adaptability within this material approach is notable, paste-up art has often been overlooked as part of urban art’s ‘public art’ infiltration. The Paste-Up Project highlights the possibilities of paper-based art as a distinct element of urban art’s identity and in doing so, suggests the potential to harness these forms for commissioned public art projects.
With muralism maintaining its place at the apex of urban art’s public hierarchy, paste-ups offer an interesting alternative for public installations with associated legacies and unique material qualities that reflect the contemporary urban environment’s state of flux and information saturation. The Paste-Up Project draws on this legacy by utilising one of Phantom’s instantly recognisable bollards and its expected performance, while pushing artists to explore the themes and formal qualities of their work through the opportunity of a visible and supported platform. Over the coming year, four artists will be given the chance to take over the bollard. The first installation, by Lyttelton artist Teethlikescrewdrivers is now in place, completed in the bright sunlight of the first weekend of October.
A central figure in the local urban art scene, Slap City founder Teethlikescrewdrivers was an obvious choice, his pencils an instantly recognisable motif across the city while his network of collaborators stretches across the globe. His installation, Connection, Collaboration and Community is a vibrant reflection of the elements of paste-up culture that have become bedrocks of the artist’s creative practice. Utilising the existing segments of the bollard, Teethlikescrewdrivers’ work has the feel of a busy notice board, where inspection is rewarded. On one section, three parts of a giant pencil, monochromatic save for the rich yellow outline run from top to bottom pasted over a collection of posters advertising Slap City meet ups, each a fond recollection of a community gathering.
The second section features countless collaborations between Teethlikescrewdrivers and his numerous creative partners, both local and international. From Flying Fortress to Bloom n Grow Gal, the inventive contortions of the artist’s pencil icon are seemingly limitless. The final section makes use of the patina of the bollard, as silhouetted pencil shapes cut from variously patterned papers, from garish wallpaper to bright Ben Day dots and bold flat colours, hover across the layered, torn surface, exposing the history of the structure (realising he had attended some of the concerts advertised, the artist left snatches of information visible). The layered effect is dizzying, celebrating the worn surfaces so adored by an artist who regularly explores the urban landscape, emphasising the underlying connections between various forms of urban expression.
With Connection, Collaboration and Community in place for three months the next Paste-Up Project artist will take over the bollard in January 2022, presented with the opportunity to re-imagine the bollard’s potential, inevitably drawing inspiration from Teethlikescrewdrivers’ work and in turn creating a new thread of inspiration for those to follow.
- Teethlikescrewdrivers, Paste Up Project bollard, 132 Manchester Street