Let’s say this for the record: the Wellingtonista hates tagging. It’s just an inane and territorial fury of poodle-pissings scrawled around the town signifying nothing but a terrifying lack of imagination on the part of the tagger.

That said, there’s more to the world of graffiti than tags. And at some point graffiti changes from mindless and wanton property damage into ART, somewhere across boundaries as ragged and ill-defined and debatable as any cultural warzone. Around central Wellington, it’s all there to be discovered and mapped, tucked away in the alleys and byways of Te Aro mainly, but also scattered around the wider inner city.


left bank beefeater

There are not too many places in town where graffitists get to work undisturbed. One such is the Left Bank Gallery, an alleyway on the northern side of Ghuznee Street opposite Glover park leading to the Left Bank. After it was painted over for a film shoot several months ago regular observers of the space have been waiting for some new art to appear. And it has, in particular over this last weekend where some spectacular new pieces have been painted.


all hail the zombie queen

Stencils are a favourite around Wellington, and can range from amusing and brilliant (such as the above) to merely amateurish. The zombie queen was common about 12 months ago, but has slowly become harder to find: street art has a half-life of its own.


Paste-up, Lambton Quay

This writer likes paste-ups especially for their impermanence – paper and wheat-paste don’t last forever; and of course if the property-owner objects they’re easier to get rid of than paint or pen. But aside from such middle-class concerns, the form allows the artist to produce quite detailed work beforehand, reducing the time needed to apply the work. And so we can find pasteups like this even in the suity and well-lit parts of the city, with this example being on Lambton Quay until recently (its place is now taken by this).

…and yes, just to contradict ourselves, even some marker pen drawings that could really be called tags, especially if it’s your wall that’s been drawn on:

tintin on bolton street

Luckily, not all local taggers use the hip-hop style – many have derived their own character-driven styles. There are a good handful of these more interesting taggers about town.

All these are an ephemeral part of the city’s secret art life, and worthy of discussion and documentation. So keep your eyes open, become familiar with names about town like Neonate, DrypNZ, Mephisto Jones and Yellar, and report your findings to the Wellington Streetart Flickr Pool.