Boon on Campus was one of the genuine success stories of the last year, finally giving campus some life and some colour. Nexus sat down with Boon’s Craig McClure to find out a little more about the project and whether it is coming back to Campus in 2022.
Nexus: How did Boon start?
Craig: Boon started in 2015 as a response to the central city of Hamilton lacking in lustre after there was a huge evac of local business towards The Base and Te Rapa area. Inspired by Graffiato in Taupō, Paul Bradley and Charlotte Isaac, two of Hamilton’s finest art advocates, made the effort to make the city they love more beautiful through murals.
Very simply put, two people who loved their city and loved street art, wanted to make the magic happen on their own doorsteps for all to enjoy.
Nexus: What sort of a selection process do you go through when choosing your artists?
Craig: Generally, all the Boon festivals are by invite only. This isn’t about exclusivity; we are spoilt for choice with incredible artists in New Zealand and we prioritise the site and the people first – finding the right sites is followed by finding the right artist. We consider local stories, local history, mana whenua and the people using the space today to inform the type of artist we approach. Ultimately the goal is to make site-specific work that resonates with the people from and in that space.
Other things we consider for each festival is to give a local artist the opportunity to paint their first mural, as well attract and work with the best in the industry. We aim for a balance between local artists, national artists and international artists.
Nexus: In general, is the reception positive? We are guessing you must have had a few old people telling you they “just don’t get it”?
Craig: Totally! Art is a very good vehicle for debate and dialogue, and also everyone has their own taste and opinion. We are confident in the fact that if a design is to connect to everyone, it would need to be watered down to be palatable to the broadest common denominator. Instead, we are more interested in working with a wide range of artists, who work across genres, styles and subject matter to bring a diverse art experience to the city. Something for everyone, but not everything for everyone.
Nexus: Where can you see Boon heading in the future? What’s the five-year goal?
Craig: Boon has had the privilege and honour to have support from the local community and local businesses for several years. This has allowed us to grow in what we do and the skill set we have. Most recently we started offering a brokering service for artists and mural lovers. We offer a one-stop shop for mural production; from managing the project, working with the artist and production. 2021 will be the third year of Boon After Dark (August 31st in Garden Place) a temporary installation of contemporary sculpture. Also on the horizon is Boon moving into the digital space with Augmented Reality. We are at the early stages of working with our partners to add AR to our Boon platform.
Nexus: How do you, as an artist, create a space? Is there a formula to setting a tone or creating a vision?
Craig: In some ways, yes. Instead of a formula, I would say there are habits artists develop in how they approach a new work. Also, the client or audience will lead some aspects in a certain direction. With murals, surface, scale and placement can all impact how you go about ‘business as usual’. If there is a formula it would need to be very flexible.
Nexus: The feedback we have had is that students love what you did on Campus last year. Is Boon coming back in 2022?
Craig: Oh yeah! We are very excited to be working towards Boon on Campus 2022 and bringing several new works as well as some awesome events. You can follow us on @boonstreetart or visit our website (www.boonstreetart.co.nz) to stay updated on what is coming up.
Nexus: How do you make the event bigger on campus and really get students interested?
Craig: Free beer? The great thing about a street art festival is after we finish, thousands of people get to enjoy them daily for many years to come. We do want to make sure as many people as possible know about it and also feel they can be a part of celebrating it with us. Priority goes to making great work that lasts and resonates.