Situated in the dimly lit alleyway that connects Victoria Street to Left Bank Arcade is the Visa Wellington On a Plate 2015 mural by Ruth Robertson-Taylor and Rachael Gannaway, also known as the Left Bank graffiti wall. Viewers are free to come and go as they please, and take in one of the prime examples of Wellington’s creative culture. The bright block colours of the painting that spans the 15.3 metre long brick wall greatly contrast the dirt caked cement floor and discarded cigarette butts littered down the alley. The pop art style and use of shapely geometric forms is almost absurd in a place that can only be defined as ‘grunge’.
Food is an obvious theme throughout the mural. The Wellington Culinary Events Trust commissioned the artists to create a piece that “represented the strong connection between Wellington and its hospitality community” (Sarah Meikle) for the Wellington On a Plate Festival in 2015. The mural stands as a “lasting reminder of the festival’s influence on the city” (Sarah Meikle). Imagery of chopsticks, wine bottles, and teacups encompass the different cultures and lifestyles of Wellington citizens, those for whom the mural was created. This unification of diversity could only have garnered a positive reaction from the festival-goers, as it tells of the differences we have had to overcome in order to embrace one another’s cultures and live harmoniously. The wall acts as a promotion not only for the 2015 Wellington On a Plate festival, but also for Wellington’s culinary community in general.
Slow Boat Records is a long stretch of a store set in a slight alcove halfway down Cuba Street – number 183, to be exact. Its outer walls are bedecked with musical posters and paraphernalia, and faded yellow signage announces its name and purpose; SLOW BOAT RECORDS. BUY SELL TRADE; RECORDS, COMPACT DISCS, TAPES.
The blazing red emblem – a junk ship silhouetted against a half-set sun – is what allows pedestrians who spare Slow Boat a passing glance to connect with what the store has to offer. It exists primarily to make available the music that was at its prime prior to the store’s establishment in 1989, the kind of music that has become hard to find online or in chain stores. Slow Boat Records allows its customers to take home their own little piece of the past in the form of audio.
Cardboard cutouts that dangle in the window of David Bowie and Elvis in their signature get-ups reflect the styles of people passing by and through the store. Men in sleek business suits who have jumped on the hipster-combover hairstyle bandwagon resemble modernised Presley’s, while more daring expressionists with made-up faces and bizarrely printed shirts reflect Ziggy Stardust’s style.
Some choose to portray their musical appreciation in a subtler manner; people in well loved t-shirts with faded band logos can be seen frequently milling in and around Slow Boat – staff included.
Stacks of records and CD’s sprinkled with dust garnered from the storage rooms out back fill the maze of shelves inside. The unobtrusive lighting and constant beat of background music creates a calming and welcoming atmosphere. Ultimately, the store is a place for lovers of song to come together and celebrate their collective tastes. It is a safe haven in which to relax and meet others to whom you can relate and connect and, most importantly, to find and rediscover the music you know and love.