17 Apr 2020

Artists take over city billboards during lockdown

6:42 pm on 17 April 2020

An almost overnight slump in advertising has given artists an opportunity of a lifetime - to have their work displayed on illuminated billboards around the country.

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Greta Anderson's mural on a billboard. Photo: Supplied / Lumo-cam

Images of landscapes and dogs are among those popping up on billboards in Tauranga, Hamilton, Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington this month.

The campaign organiser, Aimee Ralfini, wanted to colour up cities at a time when streets are unusually vacant and people are either cooped up in apartments or or driving to and from essential work.

Campaign organiser, Aimee Ralfini.

Campaign organiser, Aimee Ralfini. Photo: Supplied

"You want to see something that reminds you that although you may be stuck in an environment right now that sucks, and you might not know what the future holds, that there's beauty that you will get back to," Ralfini said.

She gathered the works of seven artists, ranging from landscapes to illustrations and digital images, to be displayed on 24 billboards owned by LUMO.

"The brief that I gave the artists was to give me something that eminates joy," said Ralfini, who also organises Art Ache, which brings together artists and potential buyers.

Artist Evie Kemp's work of dogs is splashed across a few billboards, and she also plans to offer the image as a phone wallpaper.

"I really wanted to bring some pure colour, simple joy and total cuteness to our urban environments, it's as simple as that," Kemp said.

"The world is scary and unknown right now so I thought it was a good opportunity to just go all out with happiness."

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Brightening up the city skyline with tons of colour and loads of dogs. Why? Because why not?! Even though I can't get to see them myself (for now anyway) it's such a thrill to see my work on billboards! @artache_nz have collaborated with @lumodigitaloutdoor to fill our city centres with art on their digital billboards, with the aim to bring some joy and delight to essential workers, and city apartment dwellers during lockdown. I'm one of 7 artists to provide a work and have billboards currently on the corner of Anzac Ave, Stanley St in Parnell, in Mt Eden and Grey Lynn in Auckland, and one on Columbo St in Christchurch. If they're in your hood and you see them I'd love to know! This was such a fun opportunity to spread some thanks and I really hope they bring some happiness as we go in to our 4th week of lockdown. Stunning photo by @heybillybaxter - thank you . Thanks @artache_nz for always advocating and activating great art - even in exceptional circumstances. And to @lumodigitaloutdoor for making it possible ❤️ See @artache_nz for more - and billboard locations! My fellow artists are @miseryland @cherrylazar @_amcnaughton @greta3710 @iamvanessagreen @ralfi_lafini I'll pop up a phone wallpaper version soon too for anyone who wants it! #artache #lumodigital

A post shared by Evie Kemp (@eviekemp) on

Ralfini said artists are in a unique position to help make sense of the world during times of crises.

"This is a great time for artists because they've already experienced that sense of slight dislocation, fear, lack of certainty and naturally express ways to come to terms with that. It's a great time for artists to take the lead," she said.

Vanessa Green's art piece.

Vanessa Green's art piece. Photo: LUMO-cam

The artists with work featured on billboards are Evie Kemp, Greta Anderson, Tanja McMillan, Angus McNaughton, Vanessa Green, Ralfi Lafini and Cherry Lazar.