The Apron: street art innovation


The lawn adjacent to the Baycourt foyer displays another form of street art and urban embellishment.   It’s the work of multi-disciplinary Auckland-based creative Richard Orjis.

The Apron: garden street art

The Apron: garden street art

For some months now I’ve been watching the ever-changing pattern on the grass beside Baycourt – koru curves – a small winding pathway – a sense of what and when.  I have a history of “guerilla gardening” – the beautiful old but then neglected railway station in a South Auckland suburb – so I’m fascinated by the something that is happening on this piece of urban lawn in Downtown Tauranga.  Today I’m visiting the still developing space and talking with the creative behind the project.aprongardenevent22112016baycourt-005

The most determined of what could be described as the first day of summer’s sunlight is slowly giving way to that beautiful pre-twilight gentleness.   Filtering through the trees on the edge of Baycourt lawn, stroking the gathered clusters who are acknowledging the Tauranga Art Gallery commissioned installation for the 2016 Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival.

The invitation said 5pm – 7pm for a special summer cocktail event.   Alec of Baycourt is suitably summer-trilbyed and presiding over the outdoor bar with drinks so colourful and decadent the Great Gatsby would be envious.   Seated around a small “green” on those multi-use benches enjoying the outdoor sensation, superb small bites and the outrageous cocktails they turn to hear Gallery Director Karl Chitham introduce the creator of the horticultural art work.

Richard Orjis is young, tall and articulate.  He speaks briefly. He answers one or two questions.  He happily takes guests through the work and stands and talks with them.   I spend a wonderful time talking with Jo Torr and Pare Taikato – we sort the filming of my project “Do not leave me hanging by a thread”    The guests drift away and before he can be whisked away, I ask Richard to sit and talk with me.

There’s an intellectual concept behind what some will say looks like a straggly patch of unmown grass.  It’s re-imagining the use of urban space.  It’s blurring the lines between manicured urban imposed order and rural lushness.   It’s the juxtaposition of urban floral order against rural richness. I suggest to Richard that some in Auckland would never have seen the rural-scape he has created in this small patch of Tauranga CBD.

It is a wending walkway through a variety of species – I see oats, clover, perhaps wheat , taller waving blue and purple flowers.  Commonly occurring rural weeds could not be included but Richard has collated a specific exhibition seed bank.  There are seeds collected locally, others from seed mixes, from an herbal lay and seeds “from a packet”.  The result is an abstract pattern of colour, form, height and shape.   It is a new dimension to the concept of urban street art.    It is as Richard said an expression of “romanticism” … long skirted, high-waisted muslin, boots and breeches could well walk through this composed pathway.

This is not the first garden-street art commission undertaken by Richard – there was one outside Studio One on Ponsonby Road, Auckland and a year-long project outside an Auckland suburban art gallery.  He makes me laugh when he shares that this project was inadvertently “mowed” by Council employees who thought the naturally growing vegetation had obviously been missed by the mowing contractors.

Richard Orjis is an artist; he describes himself as “interdisciplinary” – photograpy, drawing, ceramics.  As a child he had a vegetable garden.  He’s interested in gardening and has designed/landscaped garden areas.   He’s currently an art teacher in Auckland.  He’s taught/worked in Wanganui and Tauranga. And, yes, Richard would like to create other garden-street art installations: specific purpose compositions of medicinal herbs.

Richard’s approach to urban land use is an example of urban dwellers rethinking the value and use of small, previously overlooked spaces of ground. This year I’ve met West Auckland creatives who have planted the road verge in front of their home with edible plants.   There are people planting fruit trees on roadsides and parks Urban and community shared gardens.

Richard and Karl leave:   I take another walk through the field.  There are bumble bees on the round blue flowers.    The work will be in place until February 2017.   It will be an ever-changing landscape you can visit, sit in and enjoy.

Embellishing urban environments

Embellishing urban environments

Rural sward in Downtown Tauranga

Rural sward in Downtown Tauranga

Simple seating within the design

Simple seating within the design

Congratulations to the Tauranga Art Gallery and Megan Peacock-Coyle of Baycourt for daring to bring this highly relevant and contemporary street art to Tauranga.

Tauranga Art Gallery Director Karl Chittham introduces The Apron creator Richard Orjis

Tauranga Art Gallery Director Karl Chitham introduces The Apron creator Richard Orjis


Guests stand in the shade on the edge of the green space

Guests stand in the shade on the edge of the green space

Vibrant coloured cocktails complete the summer evening

Vibrant coloured cocktails complete the summer evening

The Baycourt's star Barman Alex pours the Perrier

The Baycourt’s star Barman Alex pours the Perrier

Summer colours appear

Summer colours appear

Mary Dillon of Friends of the Tauranga Art Gallery

Mary Dillon of Friends of the Tauranga Art Gallery

Just enjoying..

Just enjoying..

Arts administrators

Arts administrators

Tauranga Art Gallery Director and Baycourt Director

Tauranga Art Gallery Director and Baycourt Director

IMG_3650tincanatBarkesCornerRosemary Balu.  Rosemary Balu is the founding and current editor of ARTbop.  Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland.  She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved.  Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding  multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

Don’t miss other events, workshops and fundays happening in Tauranga, the Bay of Plenty and surrounding districts…..

Charity gig at Totara Street ends November on a high

Charity gig at Totara Street ends November on a high

One of the organisers, veteran musician, DJ, radio host and ARTbop contributor Kingsley Smith says: “I just wanted to let you know about the ROCK FEST 2016”

When: Sat 26th Nov

Where: Totara Street Venue, Mount Maunganui

This is a great community rock event. It is a mini rock festival held at one of NZ’s finest live venues. It is a non-profit event where all proceeds are going to the Cancer Society. Even the musicians, promoters, venue directors, are all providing their services for free, with the hope of building the local rock scene up and making this an annual event.

Here are the important internet links…


facebook event page:

  • Tickets are only $10, but even if you can’t make it we’d appreciate any sharing or networking you can help us with.mage

cominguppostersnov2016-002FAMILY FUN DAY at the Tauranga Art Gallery 10am to 3pm Saturday 26 NO BOOKINGS REQUIRED.  $5. per family + gold coin donation for face painting. Bring your family to enjoy Creation Stations, story telling, an art hunt, and face painting on this flora-themed fun-filled day.  Tauranga Art Gallery Cnr of Wharf & Willow Streets, Downtown Tauranga, Phone 07 578 7933

media-sculptor-rory-mcdougall-at-2014-symposiumNew Zealand’s top sculptors set to show-off their talent in Rotorua

Artist Rory McDougall working on his sculpture during the 2014 Sculpture Symposium

Wielding chisels, hammers and power tools artists will descend on Rotorua Arts Village Green from Saturday 19 November to transform 25 tonnes of stone and logs into works of art.

Seventeen of New Zealand’s top local and national sculptors have nine days to create pieces of art during the 2016 Sulphur Lakes Sculpture Symposium.

The finished pieces of art become part of Rotorua’s Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail.

Artists can use all styles; traditional, abstract and contemporary. Their artwork must reflect the theme of ‘The Energy Within,’ capturing Rotorua’s unique geothermal and cultural environment.

Council community arts advisor and symposium coordinator, Marc Spijkerbosch, says the sculpture symposium is an exciting event for the city.

“This is a thrilling event for the artists and the wider community Rotorua is very fortunate. There are only a couple of events like this across the country. It’s great for the artists and a rare opportunity for locals and tourists to see sculptures being created.

“These artists are seasoned professionals.It’s mesmerising to watch them cut down, shape and mould these huge blocks and boulders,” he says.

The artists have the choice to create pieces from Oamaru limestone, Taranaki andesite or macrocarpa logs.

“The artists all work in an open space and we encourage locals and visitors to come down to watch the sculptors work and see the artworks take shape.” Mr Spijkerbosch says.

At the end of the nine days, one of the works will be selected for the judges’ award and will become a permanent part of the district’s public art collection. Up to a further four pieces could be selected to enhance the new boulevard in Rotorua’s Kuirau Park.

All the finished sculptures will be installed along the Sulphur Lakes Sculpture Trail in Government Gardens to form The Energy Within Exhibition.The pieces will remain on public display along the trail until the next sculpture symposium in 2018.

The works would also be for sale at prices set by the artists, and any sold from the sculpture trail would be replaced with alternative pieces.

The Sculpture Symposium is on 8.30am to 4.30pm daily from Saturday 19 to Sunday 27 November at the Rotorua Arts Village Green in the Government Gardens.


aprongardenevent22112016baycourt-005The Apron: Contemporary artist Richard Orjis has conceived a garden for the summer.  Developed specifically for the Baycourt lawn, this project explores our everyday green spaces.  It makes referece to our local landscape and the flora that resides on the boundary and how this can change the way we think about the world around us.   Tauranga Art Gallery exhibition on the Baycourt lawn until February 2017.

 Barry Dabb:  an exhibition surveying nearly 20 years of Barry Dabb’s paintings.  Since the late 1990’s he has been documenting domestic gardens throughout the South Pacific.  Each of theses lush settings contain species that are often not indigenous to their island location reflecting a subtle form of infiltration that has occurred over many years.  Tauranga Art Gallery until February 2017.


Downtown Tauranga’s outdoor art market  November 27th Interested in participating you can get information from   and take a look at facebook   Left Bank Tauranga

coromandelpromotionalnov2016-001TOMEK FRIEDRICH: Art Photographer – Artzentao Photography at the Paeroa Art Gallery until the 26 November 2016.

The Paeroa Arts Centre on the main road through the township is housed in the historic Borough Council Building. Apart from unique changing exhibitions the Gallery displays for sale a variety of creativity by local artists and craftspeople.

Paeroa Arts Centre: open Wedneday to Saturday from 11am to 3pm 

P:  07 862 7111        W:          


coromandelpromotionalnov2016-004IN PRAISE OF NIKAU: Botanical Drawings by Christine Hellyar showing at the Miranda Farm Gallery, until 4th December 2016.

The drawings by Christine Hellyar of Nikau and various native plants, foliage and flowers are both visually beautiful and evocative of standing in the cover of our New Zealand bush.  Review of the opening of the exhibition is coming!

The Miranda Farm Gallery is part of the organic orchard Miranda Farm.  There is a small cafe (not open on Monday and Tuesdays (and occasional Wednesdays), organic produce and wonderful onsite produced preserves and chutneys.  On the back roads across the Hauraki Plains this is a wonderful day out.

The Miranda Farm Gallery can be found at 1107 Miranda Road, R.D.3 Pokeno 2473 and is open Thursday to Sunday from 10am – 4pm (Other days by appointment).

 P: 09 238 2608                         W:

Gallery on Mulgan opens in Katikati

Gallery on Mulgan opens in Katikati

GALLERY ON MULGAN This is the gallery of Katikati artist Lorraine Browne who describes herself as ‘an Expressionist’.  13 Mulgan Street, Katikati is open Thursday and Fridays or by appointment by calling Lorraine on 07 549 2048.

creative-tauranga-world-inspired-opening-night-28-07-16-670x800BIRGITT SHANNON Artist, Katikati  An accomplished artist of Australian descent Birgitt has participated in solo and group exhibitions.  She is part of the group of artists chosen the now famous Morrinsville Cows – a street art project.  Her street art work can also been seen on the large planters outside the Katikati BNZ, part of the 2015 NZ Mural Competition and Arts Festival.  Birgitt has sold dozens of paintings in Australia and New Zealand and has recently sold a painting now hanging in a Research Centre at The Museum of Natural History in Los Agneles.    Birgitt’s work can be found on her website  and you can follow her facebook page at



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