Sunday, June 18

A Banksy weekend

I emigrated from New Zealand more than 28 years ago.  At the time my decision was motivated in part by a desire to experience a more cosmopolitan lifestyle.  Since then New Zealand society has transformed itself.  Today when I venture back across the Tasman Sea I find an increasingly diverse range of world class restaurants and entertainment; plus hotels and tourism ventures as sophisticated and immersive as anything I’ve experienced overseas.

The contrast couldn’t have been any starker than when I took time off to spend a long weekend with my mother last week.  My trip began with an Air New Zealand flight in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  I’ve been dying to experience this new 21st Century pencil nosed aircraft.  I wasn’t disappointed. 

The aircraft’s advanced feature were very much on display. For example, the cabin windows are huge.  I had an aisle seat but was still able to enjoy the view as we came into land in Auckland. The cabin felt lighter and airier.  The air wasn’t as dry and dehydrating.  The inflight entertainment system was sleek and responsive.

Soon after arriving my mother asked if I wanted to see the Banksy exhibition in town.  I nearly fell off my chair.  Surely Mum was joking.  How on earth could a regional city in little old New Zealand be hosting a Banksy event?  Banksy is renowned British street artist.  His works regularly sell for upwards of USD 1 million or more.  To date his identity is unknown adding to the aura of his fame.

Incredibly the Tauranga Art Gallery was hosting an exhibition of street art.  The event featured 22 works by the elusive Banksy including several instantly recognisable pieces.  The Oi YOU! Collection which includes these works, plus 58 pieces by other prominent artists, has been touring New Zealand and Australia for several years. 

The Collection is owned by George Shaw and Shannon Webster who began collecting in 2005.  Their passion for Banksy art was perfectly timed, They were able to buy several works the price of his work began skyrocketing.  I was delighted to see his famous Flower Thrower.  This work depicts a protester throwing flowers rather than Molotov cocktails. 

The Tauranga Art Gallery had also commissioned a number of street art murals around the inner city.  Mum and I took a walking tour to see these pieces in their all their glory. We picked the perfect day to venture out as the sun was shining and temperatures were surprisingly mild for winter.

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