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Innovation in street art on display in SALT District


A new piece of street art in the SALT District is turning a negative into a positive in more ways than one.

The mural runs the length of a 40-metre laneway between SALT Square and St Asaph St, made up of four photos painted in the negative. Pull out a smartphone, take a photo and invert it and voila – the photo develops on your screen!

George Shaw, of street art collective Oi YOU!, said they wanted to create something innovative to fit with SALT’s reputation as one of the city’s most creative districts. It was painted by renowned Kiwi street artist Dcypher, with help from Jacob Yikes and Ikarus.

Dcypher was also part of the team that created the SALT mural, located just around the corner in SALT Square, which is animated at night by a laser projector.

“The area has such a rich history and we wanted to celebrate this in the mural. The SALT District has become such a creative place, so we needed to produce something ground-breaking, something that would wow people,” Shaw said.

“We’re hoping people will reflect on the area’s history with this mural, but also have fun playing with the image on their phones. You can flip between positive and negative and with the right app mix it up with different colour combinations. It also provides insight into how film processing works, which I guess is a bit of a lost art these days.”

The area is a place of historic firsts – the city’s first freshwater well, New Zealand’s first escalator and an early music playing machine, certified by Thomas Edison, was designed and produced there.

The district was also Canterbury’s engine room – the city’s trams were built there, heavy farm equipment was forged in P & D Duncan’s foundry, and early cars for the South Island were assembled there.

Most of the historic businesses no longer exist but some do. Hutchinson Motors has operated in the area for nearly 100 years, and furniture manufacturer and retailer AJ White’s, later merged into McKenzie & Willis, was there from 1870 until it moved in 2011. Historical images of these businesses have been included in the artworks.

John Hutchinson, of Team Hutchinson Ford, said they were “excited to be shown in this installation, just a block from where we have been located for nearly 100 years”.

“Street art like this really adds to our city and is such a brilliant way to show our historical connection to the SALT District,” Hutchinson said.

Bill Willis from McKenzie & Willis said they were “delighted” to be part of such an innovative and skillful piece of street art.

“We are very proud to celebrate our connection to the old district, now called SALT, which played such an important part in the business development of our great city,” Willis said.

“We look forward to watching the area evolve with new life again, and into the future”

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