Street artist Mr G hits Gisborne

MR G IN GISBORNE: Commissioned by Farmlands Co-operative, street artist Graham Hoete, also known as Mr G, is in Gisborne this week to spray a mural on Farmlands’ Lowe Street wall that reflects this region.
Picture by Rebecca Grunwell
“Street art has its own aesthetic and an edge. A lot of people can connect with it and relate to it."

Mount Hikurangi rises up at the centre of street artist Graham Hoete’s almost 30 metre-long mural he is spray painting this week on the Farmlands’ wall in Lowe Street.

The maunga is flanked by a birds-eye view of Uawa-Tolaga Bay’s historic wharf on the far left, and the luminous curtain of Rere Falls on the far right.

Better known as Mr G, Hoete’s mural project is part of a Farmlands Co-operative initiative in which the artist draws on local history to create murals at each of the 15 locations around the country he will visit.

Imagery for the Gisborne mural came out of a discussion with Farmlands staff members.

“Who better to source content ideas from?” says Hoete. “They submitted a brief to me and some local history and land features they would like to see on the wall.

“The drive north for this project is painting content that reflects the heart of the community.”

Imagery includes a sfumato (smoky) forest under a brooding sky in charcoal tones on one side of Mt Hikurangi. An East Coast sunrise will back-light the mountain.

“The forest creates depth of field. I’m happy with how that’s come out,” says Hoete.

On the left side of Hikurangi is a portrait of Second-Lieutenant Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu (Ngati Porou, Te Whanau-a-Apanui). The Victoria Cross he was posthumously awarded for “outstanding courage and fortitude” during combat in North Africa is included in the artwork.

To source pictures for the geographic features, Hoete drove to Uawa-Tolaga Bay and took photos with his drone.

“I posted them on my Facebook page. Heaps of locals checked them out.”

Geographic features

He also photographed the Rere Falls and Mt Hikurangi.

There are three main ways to paint a mural, he says. One is to lay a grid over the drawing then transfer the image on to a scaled-up grid on the wall. A projector can be used to throw the image to be painted on to a wall, or the imagery can be sprayed on freehand.

“I put up a main grid line but sometimes I’ll freehand,” says Hoete.

“You learn and adapt a few techniques along the way.”

Hoete uses top-quality paint he says is “specialised for this sort of stuff”.

“It’s really durable.”

The reality of street art is it grew out of graffiti culture, he says.

“Street art has its own aesthetic and an edge. A lot of people can connect with it and relate to it.

“That’s why we’re painting local features. This project is about retelling local stories.

“For me as an artist I have to paint things that are meaningful but still have the edge of street art.”

Hoete has painted since he was a child.

“My inspiration came as a four year old watching my brother draw Conan the Barbarian with a ballpoint pen on refill paper.

“That was a trigger moment for me. At Kawerau College my art teacher instilled some self-belief in me. He said ‘you have something special in you’. From then I thought ‘I have got something’.”

With no formal art training, Hoete learned much of his trade through library books, YouTube videos and a lot of practice.

“There’s no substitute for it. Talent only goes so far — the rest is hard work.”

He was never a tagger or graffito but has a background in portrait painting and working in a range of paint mediums, he says. He took up spray painting in about 1997, developed a photorealist style and became a full-time artist 13 years ago.

After the mural is unveiled on Saturday, Hoete plans to climb Mt Hikurangi. He will take his trekking drone with him for aerial footage.

“I’m all about getting out there. I’ll catch the sunrise.”

Mount Hikurangi rises up at the centre of street artist Graham Hoete’s almost 30 metre-long mural he is spray painting this week on the Farmlands’ wall in Lowe Street.

The maunga is flanked by a birds-eye view of Uawa-Tolaga Bay’s historic wharf on the far left, and the luminous curtain of Rere Falls on the far right.

Better known as Mr G, Hoete’s mural project is part of a Farmlands Co-operative initiative in which the artist draws on local history to create murals at each of the 15 locations around the country he will visit.

Imagery for the Gisborne mural came out of a discussion with Farmlands staff members.

“Who better to source content ideas from?” says Hoete. “They submitted a brief to me and some local history and land features they would like to see on the wall.

“The drive north for this project is painting content that reflects the heart of the community.”

Imagery includes a sfumato (smoky) forest under a brooding sky in charcoal tones on one side of Mt Hikurangi. An East Coast sunrise will back-light the mountain.

“The forest creates depth of field. I’m happy with how that’s come out,” says Hoete.

On the left side of Hikurangi is a portrait of Second-Lieutenant Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu (Ngati Porou, Te Whanau-a-Apanui). The Victoria Cross he was posthumously awarded for “outstanding courage and fortitude” during combat in North Africa is included in the artwork.

To source pictures for the geographic features, Hoete drove to Uawa-Tolaga Bay and took photos with his drone.

“I posted them on my Facebook page. Heaps of locals checked them out.”

Geographic features

He also photographed the Rere Falls and Mt Hikurangi.

There are three main ways to paint a mural, he says. One is to lay a grid over the drawing then transfer the image on to a scaled-up grid on the wall. A projector can be used to throw the image to be painted on to a wall, or the imagery can be sprayed on freehand.

“I put up a main grid line but sometimes I’ll freehand,” says Hoete.

“You learn and adapt a few techniques along the way.”

Hoete uses top-quality paint he says is “specialised for this sort of stuff”.

“It’s really durable.”

The reality of street art is it grew out of graffiti culture, he says.

“Street art has its own aesthetic and an edge. A lot of people can connect with it and relate to it.

“That’s why we’re painting local features. This project is about retelling local stories.

“For me as an artist I have to paint things that are meaningful but still have the edge of street art.”

Hoete has painted since he was a child.

“My inspiration came as a four year old watching my brother draw Conan the Barbarian with a ballpoint pen on refill paper.

“That was a trigger moment for me. At Kawerau College my art teacher instilled some self-belief in me. He said ‘you have something special in you’. From then I thought ‘I have got something’.”

With no formal art training, Hoete learned much of his trade through library books, YouTube videos and a lot of practice.

“There’s no substitute for it. Talent only goes so far — the rest is hard work.”

He was never a tagger or graffito but has a background in portrait painting and working in a range of paint mediums, he says. He took up spray painting in about 1997, developed a photorealist style and became a full-time artist 13 years ago.

After the mural is unveiled on Saturday, Hoete plans to climb Mt Hikurangi. He will take his trekking drone with him for aerial footage.

“I’m all about getting out there. I’ll catch the sunrise.”

The mural will be unveiled from 11.30am on Saturday.

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