The rise of graffiti in Aotearoa by Sam Hollis
In 1997, a small collective of street artists surfaced from West Auckland to make their mark. It soon grew into a 21-strong crew known as TMD, a group who would spend the next two decades bringing colour to our streets. From the 27th of March to the 22nd of August, you can experience a retrospective exhibition of the crew’s work for the first time at any major public museum in The Most Dedicated: An Aotearoa Graffiti Story.
On at The Dowse Art Museum, the exhibition is split into three sections. The first presents a historic view of the crew through photographic archives. Next there’s a large installation featuring a replica Auckland train and a corner dairy – all important symbols of the era for TMD. Finally, the exhibition presents a collection of the group’s contemporary, post-graffiti artworks.
As the exhibition’s title implies, the installation also tells a broader tale of the artform’s evolution in Aotearoa. Elliot O’Donnell, commonly known as Askew One, says this tale has both light and dark shades.
“[Graffiti] has been equally powerful and destructive in my life… Graffiti gave me the ability to project the identity I wanted versus the one I was born with,” he says. “Also though, like anything, if you keep in too much of a stagnant and overly nostalgic frame of mind, graffiti can be extremely unhealthy as an adult.”
From the 27th to the 1st of April, the crew will commemorate the exhibition with the TMD: Street Art Festival, which will see 15 of the members paint murals in Lower Hutt’s CBD.
“We are all really stoked for this opportunity to share our story because we know there are a lot of other young people out there that will relate and find it inspiring.”