Cityzenkane

Cityzenkane

English 3D artist and festival guest, Cityzenkane, begins his collaboration with local Uku ceramic artist, Stevei Houkamau at Toi Poneke on Monday February 27th.

The resulting artwork(s) will be attached to the side of a building in Wellington as a permanent work. We will put out the location of this building shortly before the work is installed.

On Wednesday March 2nd Cityzenkane will lead a workshop in clay with artists from Vincent’s Art Workshop, Pablo’s Art Studios and Alpha Art at the Museum of Wellington. The fruits of this workshop will be fired and installed at the Museum in March.

After he leaves Wellington Cityzenkane will make his way to Dunedin where he will run another workshop and attach one of his large wall mounted assemblages to an inner-city building. This installation is the first joint project between Vivid Wellington and Dunedin Street Art.

Sponsors – Havana Coffeeworks / WCC Creative Communities / WCC Events

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What are your main artistic influences? Who are a couple of your favourite artists and why?

I’m very much influenced by the complexity of nature, ancient cultures and symbolism. In terms of artists – Andy Goldsworty, Anish Kapoor, HR Giger, Blu Blu, Banksy, Phlegm and ROA – are all gods.

When did you attach your first sculpture to a wall?

My first piece was around eight years ago. It was a small sculpture which was removed the day after by four men from the Hackney Graffiti Removal Team.

Have you ever been caught attaching to a sculpture to a wall?

I was arrested years ago for trying to install a piece next to Stoke Newington Police Station. The Desk Sergeant thought it was hilarious to book a middle aged, middle class man arrested for such a ‘young’ crime. After a night in the cells they let me go early next morning. When I got home my wife just rolled her eyes.

Can you briefly describe your process in making and attaching the work?

I make an original sculpture either out of clay or polymer clay. Then I make a silicon mould of the sculpture which allows me to cast replicas of the sculpture, usually with Jesmonite, a strong non-toxic resin. The cast pieces are finally mounted on the wall with self tapping screws and silicon glue.

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I know you want to try and bring spirituality and nature into the urban environment? Why do you think this idea is important?

To be honest all I’m trying to do with my art is reflect my sub concious, experience’s and thoughts. Whats important is the the reaction of the viewer, good or bad.

How do you balance making money with making art? I think we’d both agree that a lot of the best art is done for purely personal reasons and not financial ones?

I started doing street art for precisely that reason. It was purely the chance to freely express myself without thinking about money. Of course I have to be realistic. My process is expensive and although I have a job (BBC Camera Man) my pieces are getting bigger and bigger. At some stage I guess I’ll have to get my head around making some returns on what I do if I want to keep on this path.

Are you a street artist or a gallery artist?

I’m just an artist who uses the street as a canvas. I don’t really think of myself as a ‘street artist’. Most of the ‘street artists’ I know also just tend to think of themselves as ‘artists’. Next year I’m doing an exhibition with‘1963’ gallery in London.

What do you think about property developers using street art to ‘art-wash’ their development projects?

All counter-culture of any worth is in the course of time hi-jacked and diluted by the corporate sector. The last time I was in Berlin I met this highly paid advertising executive who had a lucrative job travelling the world and infiltrating street art scenes in an attempt to develop a new product for a perfume manufacturer.

How important are the unsanctioned illegal elements of street art to its future development?

Its absolutely critical. The illegal side of street art is what generates inovation, rebellion and non-conformity. Like it or not – tagging and graffiti are an integral part of human culture and society.

How many other people are doing similar things to yourself? The only person I can think of is Artur Bordalo from Portugal but he attaches found objects to walls to make 3D pictures instead of actually making the objects themselves as you do.

3D street art is a lot more prevalent these days, which is great. Christian Nagel, Jonesy, Invader, Robots art collective and my current favourite Nespoon from Poland. Bordalo’s work is awesome.

Nespoon just did a piece in Dunedin recently. Maybe you can do some work down there as well on your trip to New Zealand? What’s the end game for Cityzenkane? Where do you hope to be and what do you hope to be doing in ten years time?

I try not to focus too much on the future. I try to become better at what I do and refine my skills. It would be nice to be a full time artist at some point.

What do you hope to achieve in New Zealand?

I really enjoy teaching, so I’m looking forward to sharing my skills with other people. I’m looking forward to a collaborative project with a native New Zealand artist Stevie Houkamau and make a permanent piece that the people New Zealand will enjoy.

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