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Crime And Creativity Are The Focus Of A New Book By Author And Street Photographer, Jaimie Baird

Crime and creativity are the focus of a new book by author and street photographer, Jaimie Baird. Here Today Gone Tomorrow: Wellington Street Art is an anthology covering four decades with 1200-plus images contained in a 224-page, hardcover coffee table book, released this week. Wellington historian Redmer Yska contributed a foreword.

Jaimie has been described as a lunatic. In 1985 he wrote to Prime Minister, David Lange, inviting him to join ‘Club Graffiti – an international search for interesting graffiti’. The PM declined due to the perceived association of graffiti with a criminal act. He did however suggest that his cabinet colleague Mrs Hercus may be interested. The Honourable Dame Ann Hercus, was at the time, Minister for Police.

This story starts with the arrival of the Hip Hop subculture in Wellington in the early 1980s from New York and Philadelphia, and with it what at the time was described as graffiti bombing. From that beginning the book goes on to document the riot of social comment, wild characters and artistry that have populated Wellington’s cityscape from 1985 to 2024. Also included are fold-out panoramas – some almost a metre wide — of selected works, and a series of vignettes by contemporary street artists.

Art or vandalism, protest or social commentary – how you see street art depends on where you stand. Jaimie sees the material contained in his book as a testament to human imagination, innovation and cultural diversity. Jaimie says ‘Whilst the creativity is inspiring, it is also mixed with a level of human depravity’. Whatever you make of it, this book’s riot of colour and off-beat street images cement Wellington’s reputation as ‘one of the coolest little capitals in the world’, as described by Lonely Planet in 2014.

The book’s planned content was too controversial for most publishers, resulting in the author taking the risk and self-publishing. In part, the disclaimer states – open this book at your own risk, and as the saying goes ‘don’t shoot the messenger’.

Available in April from all good booksellers.

Primedia ISBN 978-473-67781-7 RRP $70.00

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