I visited Tauranga this week and I was so excited to be able to attend the Paradox: Tauranga Street Art Festival that I had heard so much about.
The festival is the first of its kind in Tauranga and is paradoxical in its nature not only by bringing street art into a gallery but also because national and international artists have turned the city into an outdoor gallery. First thing to note is that there was a queue to get into Tauranga Art Gallery. Yes, a queue of punters, a real queue of real people wanting to get up front and personal with the works of Banksy, Faile, Paul Insect, Swoon and Anthony Micallef amongt others. Hipsters, grannies, toddlers, blue collar workers, schoolkids and me (I'm not sure what category I really belong to) all under the same roof to check out a magical exhibition in a magical exhibition space.
No doubt that Banksy was the draw card and his 23 pieces were as compelling in the flesh as I imagined and hoped they would be. You know that funny feeling you get your tummy when you find yourself in the presence of genius. This was that feeling. Magical. But there was so much more to see and experience. Floor to ceiling installations, interactive sensory experiences, virtual reality zones and doors that held scerets within. #Nospoiliers, but it was quite a sight seeing the Paradox posse moving virtually through the installation with smartphone powered headsets. Was I really in the BOP? It felt like NYC. I had many favourite exhibits but the Jacob Yikes that filled the atrium was truly breathtaking.
Paradox Inside was only half of the show though. Paradox Outside features a collective of international street artists that have left a remarkable legacy in their natural habitat - the streets. I walked around all 6 locations to witness their work - best 45 minute stroll I've had for a long time. Fresh air for the lungs, food for the brain and inspiration for the soul. Check.