The above image is an excerpt from the Left Bank Graffiti Wall. This was painted for visitors to the 2015 Wellington On a Plate festival, as a promotional device that would continue to mean something of importance to Wellington citizens long after the festival had finished.
I believe it was intended for the audience to see it as a celebration of Wellington’s cultural diversity, however I see it as a representation of something different.
The image speaks of how our lives have begun to revolve so much around food that we have begun to lose our identities as individuals. We are now only seen as the cultures we belong to and the specialized cuisines of these cultures. We have stopped existing as singular beings and have become one of many who are represented by the food most consumed by their populace.
The integration of vegetables into the hair of the figures in this image is suggestive of the idea that we are letting our appetites define us and dictate how the rest of society sees us, while the covering of the eyes with fruit is symbolic of the suppression of our identities as individuals.
Key Similarity Both sites are used as forms of advertisement. The Left Bank mural promoted the 2015 Wellington On a Plate festival, and now promotes the cultural diversity and culinary creativity of Wellington City and its inhabitants.
Slow Boat Records promotes itself, and the products it sells; records, cds, tapes, posters, and other musical merchandise. The t-shirts of people passing in and around Slow Boat Records are also promotional; the bands or brands the wearer of the shirt chooses to endorse are promoted to the rest of the general public who view the shirt.
Key Difference The key difference between the two sites is their establishment.
The Left Bank graffiti wall was constructed on an already existing site. It was painted just last year on a wall that had already been standing; a wall which was not built for the sole purpose of being the canvas on which to paint the mural, but was built for the purpose of simply being a wall. The Visa Wellington On a Plate mural was added to a construction that already existed as a stand-alone subject, therefore transforming it into a new subject and giving it a whole different meaning.
Slow Boat Records differs from the Left Bank graffiti wall in that it is a long-established building and was constructed specifically for the purpose it currently serves. The entire building is a record store. It was built to be a record store in 1989 ago, and has remained so for 27 years. It itself is a stand-alone subject, not a modification of a stand-alone subject.
The t-shirts of the pedestrians and customers of Slow Boat Records are much the same as the store. Each t-shirt is an individual product, made specifically for the buyer who consciously chose to buy and wear that t-shirt. The shirts are not modified versions of other products – they are stand-alone pieces.
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.