Ara Art & Design graduates are keeping their creative fires burning through the RAD collective. Their biggest exhibition yet, coming up on 13 April, demonstrates how Christchurch is embracing their innovative approach to making, showing and selling art.
The Under the Influence exhibition at Boxed Quarter brings together 18 of the collective’s creatives, RAD collective co-founder Becca Barclay says.
“Under the Influence is basically the launch exhibition we never really had,” she says. “We’ve had so much more time to plan it and get the whole team involved.”
Consequently, the public will get to see the full RAD experience as graffiti artists and street artists work on blank panels alongside projections and motion graphics with support from local DJs and RDU radio station. There will also be an exhibition in Beatbox, a component of the Boxed Quarter.
This is the fourth RAD exhibition, but Barclay’s original idea was to create “a collaborative, alternative, punk magazine”.
“My research project during my degree (the Bachelor of Design specialising in Visual Communications) was looking at alternative sub cultures in print media and that idea grew. Fast forward two years out of design school and I thought about it more and more. I rallied some of my buddies up and talked about the idea and I took it to Tim Brown (Operations Manager Art and Design at Ara) this time last year.”
Brown loved the magazine idea but encouraged Barclay and co-founder Jimirah Baliza, also an Art & Design graduate, to start with something smaller. With the collective already growing through friends and word of mouth, the creatives were ready for a first challenge. The challenge arrived, in the form of the King of the Square event in Cathedral Square. The collective exhibited, hosted the event after-party, sold T shirts featuring RAD designs and networked like there was no tomorrow.
Support from First Thursdays, supporting new artistic talent, and an artist in residence spot at Embassy store followed.
RAD collective members are passionate about carrying on creating. 11 of them are Ara alumni, predominately from Art & Design visual communications, along with two New Zealand Broadcasting School alumni, and one is a current student, studying fashion.
“You leave tertiary education and we are all lucky, we got jobs early on - I’m in marketing and I love it, nine to five is all good - but you stop drawing and being as creative.”
Brown introduced Barclay to the government agency Otakaro, which develops projects in Christchurch, and RAD was offered the design work for the launch of Evolution Square.
Barclay has been pleasantly surprised by the city’s continued support for young artists.
“We’re really lucky that our youngest is 19 (years old), and our oldest is 26 - I’m 23 - and people have been so receptive. That’s the whole attitude in Christchurch. We are known now as the young, alternative collective. We are all pretty naïve; you are not making money but that is not the point. There are some incredible illustrators so why not put their designs on T-shirts? Why not show work around town? We want to create an amazing environment.”
Barclay is clear that young artists need nurturing. She was fortunate to have good guidance even before starting her degree at Ara.
“Oh man, I had really fantastic art teachers in high school and I applied everywhere, but there was something so nice about still being home. I wasn’t ready to leave Christchurch and my family and friends here. I wanted to be graphic designer and I am so grateful I got into Ara. They showed me the way.”
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