The inner-city walls of Invercargill are adorned with beautiful artwork, courtesy of South Sea Spray Waihōpai.
In December 2022, the latest edition of this colourful street art festival brought together 24 artists to Invercargill. Following successful iterations in various locations around the region, including Motupōhue (Bluff), Aparima (Riverton) and Māruawai (Gore), with their Streets Alive version.
The festival’s founder and organiser Danny Owen, also known as Deow, was inspired by his experience attending other festivals around the world and throughout the country.
“While those festivals were great, I thought we could do better, we could do something special,” he said.
Since then, South Sea Spray has flourished. While the main aim is to create vibrancy and inspirational high impact artworks, its impact extends far beyond that to support street artists, grow emerging talent and inspire the next generation.
“We are here to advocate for the artists, highlighting their value and sharing our renowned Southern hospitality with them. We take such good care of them that they keep coming back,” Deow added.
South Sea Spray Waihōpai attracts famous street artists who converge upon the town to create their magnificent murals. Each year, the organisers also include several up-and-coming artists aiming to foster the growth of the next wave of creatives.
“There are some incredibly talented young artists out there and we want to help them grow.”
He further elaborated, “Most artists, including me, begin as graffiti artists, festivals like this provide a chance to extend their skills and evolve from graffiti to murals.”
The artwork predominantly narrates local stories, often illustrating the connection between mana whenua and the region.
Deow attributes the festival’s success to active community engagement and backing from local funders.
“We try to add value through connecting with the community. There are plenty of opportunities for people to engage with the artists at workshops and walk throughs,” he explained.
“Our community funders have also been amazing. We were in the fortunate position of getting support from all of them, which was incredible and helped make the festival a success.”
“It’s awesome to see the community support we have down here, I’m not sure it can be replicated anywhere and we’re looking forward to continuing to build on that.”
The organisers have plans to continue to grow the festival in Southland, proposing alternating years between Invercargill and other locations across the region.
“The event has been so successful that we’re now getting business owners approaching us asking to be involved. They’ve seen the success of the other festival and want to be part of it too.”
Credit: Photos supplied by South Sea Spray.