Beyond Advertising and Graffiti

What vision do we have beyond advertising and grafitti for the many bare walls along Wellington's streets? Artist Tessa Laird offers us one with her poster-wall project Scales of the Serpent, which has appeared on a long concrete block wall in lower Tory Street. 

Scales of the Serpent offers a moment of magic in the everyday, with its sometimes dull pedestrian trudge. It's on one of Wellington city's less glamorous but most sizeable vacant walls, the back of a large car parking block. Laird presents a series of hand-screenprinted posters in a range of sizes, styles, reflecting a diversity of cultures, ideas, and opinions. A far wider diversity than we usually see in our city's streets. The posters are pasted in layers to the wall and ripped back, like a genuine street poster wall, but all bear the handmade mark of the artist. In fact the first genesis of the work was presented inside a gallery: the now defunct but popular Snakepit, in Auckland's High Street in 2012. 

Scales of the Serpent is the third public art project in Wellington in 2013 to be be arranged through Urban Dream Brokerage, a new agency set up, with Wellington City Council funding to enable the creative industries to grow in vacant commercial space in Wellington. The brokerage is headed by Letting Space, a national temporary public art programme, who have produced a host of projects in vacant space in Wellington in the last three years. Letting Space believe there is a strong role to be played by artists and new creative businesses, in close partnership with property owners to enliven the city and explore the mixed use potential for the city's different spaces as it grows and changes.      

Auckland artist Tessa Laird has a Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland and is a professional teaching fellow at Elam. She has exhibited extensively in private and public galleries over the last ten years.

Scales of the Serpent, Tessa Laird, from 29 March. Opposite 19 Tory Street. Property partner: Reading Cinema and Care Park