Saturday, March 13, 2010

Conviviality and the flying fox at Upper Symonds Street

A traffic control box sits beside a telephone cables utility box on the verge beside the Upper Symonds Street carpark here in Auckland, at the junction with Mt Eden and New North Roads. (Paul, in comments below, has pointed out that this is another example of Doug Ford's work, from 2005)

From the main frontage with Symonds Street, the theme appears to be that of folks have a good time with drinks and music.

Bonus points for the artist painting the telephone cables tube to the side to match in with the mural.

But, interestingly, the back of the boxes, rather than be left in a solid color or unpainted, show scenes of the volcano peaks -- and a flying fox.

Something for the pedestrian, or those wandering around the carpark, to discover.


  1. It is another one (well, two) of Doug Ford's boxes. His signature is on the little stump of phone cables (a stylised DF, arranged vertically, with year 05).

  2. Chers for that, Paul! I was trying to make out the signature, but couldn't quite. I'll add that to the post.

  3. You will find this signature on most boxes along great North Road (Oakley Creek, Heron Park, Rosebank, New Lynn historic themes, many others all over the place, also Newmarket, Park Rd. Also the big mural by the Lido cinema). The quirkiest one is at the bottom of Albert Park in the City - 'adopted by the Hemp Store'). On the subject of 'adopting boxes', I came across the following interesting memo:
    In view of the fact that Waitakere City still sponsors artists to decorate boxes (transformers, these days), I wonder about the reasons given, other than to fob off pressures by communities wishing to retain artworks of the kind after tagging attacks.

  4. My series on the control boxes started from the decision made in early 2009 to remove the painted one at the corner of New North Road and Blockhouse Bay Road. We still have just a plain bluey-green box there. I'm already aware of the past history of Auckland City council policy -- have a look back through the blog, Paul, you'll see my comments, and others, when we did indeed find that Waitakere City, Wellington, and Brisbane in Queensland has encouraged street art on the boxes, yet Auckland City seems ambivalent at best. No ideas yet what will happen under the Super City regime.

  5. They are VERY cool.... Since putting all your posts up with the 'box art', when i travel around Aucks now and see unpainted boxes i think to myself "those should have murals on them" - LOL it's just not right seeing unpainted ones now.

  6. Very true, Sandy. T'is a crime against the wonder of street art to leave the boxes just to the taggers and poster boys. We need a "Paint the Boxes" campaign.

  7. I remember the Blockhouse Bay Rd box well, Lisa, with its serious lot of fire officers - I took some pictures at the time (another Doug Ford, btw). Are you saying that a decision has been taken to *remove* (as in "we don't want it there") that work, or was it simply damaged/broken/in the way when they did all those road works and no budget to reinstate?

    When my infatuation with this street art started nearly 3 years ago, I believe to have come across some document in the Auckland city website that referred quite proudly to these works, saying that it was inspired by the example of Brisbane where I can't remember which City Council officer had worked before. I am unable to locate any trace of that now.

    (Tomorrow I'll have a couple of Doug Fords on auckland-west, one gone, one still standing. Mark Whyte is painting a transformer in Glen Eden, as is Edith Diggle in Woodlands Park, so not only bad news.)

  8. I got shots of Mark Whyte's work on the power box by Waikumete -- is he doing another now? Cool. I'll keep an eye on your blog for the Woodlands Park one, great!

    The BHB/New North Road box is sitting in a warehouse somewhere, last I heard. It is suspected that it was damaged during the works at the intersection, but Council are a bit vague on it. They're also vague on a brief report they provided to Council's Democracy Services last year after the box disappeared, where they stated that the company administering the boxes for them didn't want paintwork, as "dark colours" interfered with the works inside. I suspect an infestation of gobble-de-gook and over-jargonning, to try to support the actions of a few where policy doesn't exist. Thankfully, no other boxes have gone (but I've yet to check out the one by the Domain lately.)