Five street artists and a DJ from Aotearoa New Zealand unite to create an incredible 20-metre mural.
The artists were given five days to create an artwork at Expo 2020 Dubai and having not worked together as a group before, what developed over the week was more than a physical artwork – the project created lifelong connections and friendships, sparked new work opportunities and left an enduring legacy of Care for People and Place.
Kairau ‘Haser’ Bradley and Earnest ‘Tawck GBAK’ Bradley and youth artists John Crouch Eva Fuemana from New Zealand were joined by Dubai-based kiwi Gary Yong aka ‘Enforce One’ to produce the artwork as part of the country’s Entertainment and Cultural Programme for Expo 2020.
“As we arrived at Expo 2020, I started to realise the magnitude of this opportunity. It was an absolute honour to represent my country at an event on of this scale.
Each pavilion at Expo 2020 could have been an award-winning piece of architecture, it was absolutely mind blowing. I found it really inspiring and also overwhelming, I’m looking forward to digesting everything and allowing that inspiration to funnel through my own personal practice” said Kairau ‘Haser’ Bradley.
With the sounds of South Pacific hip-hip pioneer DJ Sir-vere bringing a relaxed Kiwi vibe to Expo 2020’s Al Forsan park, the artists worked over five days to create a mural playing homage to Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique culture and Care for People and Place.
Visitors to Expo 2020 witnessed the artwork take shape while enjoying the park atmosphere – relaxing on beanbags, flying kites, catching up with friends or dancing to the tunes.
“Expo 2020 Dubai felt like a huge celebration! Such a beautiful mix of cultures doing what they love most. You could feel the good vibes as soon as you entered. Seeing everyone create and share was really inspiring. New Zealand can be pretty isolated sometimes, so getting the chance to learn about a variety of different cultures was amazing,” said Eva Fuemana.
The artists chose to paint each other’s portraits as part of the artwork to showcase the diversity of Aotearoa New Zealand.
“The idea was for each artist to paint one of the other artists to signify trust with each other’s identity”, said Kairau, who was painted by his brother Earnest, “my portrait was extra special as it was painted by my older brother. Both of us gave up our professional careers to pursue art full time, getting flown half-way around the world to paint at Expo 2020 is a great reminder that it was all worth it. I look forward to reflecting on these moments in our later years in life”.
Gary Yong painted both DJ Sir-Vere and Eva, “DJ Sir-Vere is an important figure who has contributed immensely to the history of New Zealand Hip Hop culture. Eva Fuemana is a young up and coming visual artist who is expressing her mixed Niue, Māori heritage. By painting them together as part of the mural, I was attempting to bridge the generation gap of our indigenous cultures in New Zealand”
The mural also features three birds – reflecting ‘Place’ and Aotearoa New Zealand’s native birdlife. A colourful Tui which is known for its beautiful melodic birdsong, a Ruru or morepork, which in the indigenous Māori tradition is considered a watchful guardian, and blue and black pukeko, one of the most common birds in the country.
A distinct koru pattern in the mural’s background is a Māori symbol of creation and is based on the shape of an unfurling fern frond. This pattern is also representative of the nature of the project, in which three established street artists nurtured and mentored two up-and-coming artists Eva Fuemana and John Crouch.
“Manu (birds) in Aotearoa play the role of Kaitiaki, the guardians in the sky, these birds watch over us, and in the mural they are intertwined with Kowhaiwhai, weaving and binding our stories together” says Kairau.
Introducing the artists behind the incredible creation.
Gary Yong, aka Enforce One
Gary Yong, aka Enforce One, is a Chinese Malaysian born, New Zealand raised visual artist currently based in Dubai, where his artwork can be found across a number of public spaces. Yong is primarily an illustrator and spray-painting artist whose practice covers realism, portraits and abstract work, resulting in an eclectic mix of visual styles.
A founding member of New Zealand’s Cut Collective, a group well known for its public and street art, as well as unconventional commercial art activations, Yong believes in constantly reinventing and evolving as an art maker. He has built an impressive portfolio across many creative disciplines, with experience as a graphic designer, curator, and art director. The idea of collaborating with other art forms has always been attractive to Yong, who believes that he has a long creative journey ahead, despite all his years of experience to date.
He was one of the artists who took part in breaking the Guinness World Record of the longest graffiti scroll in the world in 2014/2015 in Dubai. He was also part of a small team of artists that hold the Guinness World Record for the largest glow in the dark artwork 2016/2017 in Ras Al Khaimah.
Kairau ‘Haser’ Bradley
Kairau ‘Haser’ Bradley is a Maori artist of Nga Puhi decent, born and raised in the western suburbs of Auckland, Aotearoa. Haser is one of a handful of artists at the forefront of the graffiti and street art scene in New Zealand. With over 20 years’ experience within the graffiti community, Haser is a member of the renowned TMD collective, which houses some of the world’s top graffiti artists. With a prestigious career displaying art in different forms, he has over a decade of experience representing at international events throughout Australasia, North America, Asia, Middle East, Europe, and the UK.
Earnest ‘Tawck GBAK’ Bradley
Earnest ‘Tawck GBAK’ Bradley is an artist of Ngāpuhi and Samoan descent, born and raised in the Western suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand and now residing in Whangarei, New Zealand’s regional capital of the northern region. A conscious decision to pursue art full time took Tawck’s art to the world for the last two decades.
Award winning international tattoo and street artist has established a full time creative career in both art forms. Following in the footsteps of his father, Tawck established a passion for art well before he took his first footsteps. Those early teachings and a lifetime of creative competitiveness with his younger brother Haser, have manifested into global endeavours and successful creative careers for the both of them.
Tawck’s current works are a reflection of years of exploration and his desire to speak a visual language that represents his past, present and culture. The manifesto of what we see today is a juxtaposition that is reflected in a way of Tā moko (Māori designs), typographic script/lettering and realism.
Eva Fuemana is a young street artist based in Auckland, NZ. She works in large scale, hand painting murals and mixed media fine arts. Her work explores the trials and tribulations of being a young person of colour from Aotearoa (NZ). Her mixed Niue, Māori heritage inspires her to create content guided towards traditional and modern Polynesian culture. She will often create works that combine organic and industrial matter to create metaphors that help tell the “young, Polynesian woman’s experience”.
She has exhibited in Te Uru Contemporary Art Gallery, Asteron Centre, Wellington (2017&2018), St Paul Street Gallery Two, The Upstairs Art Gallery and All Goods Art Gallery. She has also created 10 large scale murals throughout Auckland City, NZ.
When New Zealand's number one turntable rocker, DJ Sir-Vere steps to the turntables, the party gets live.
A South Pacific Hip-Hop pioneer, key member of legendary New Zealand DJ crew S.A.S, and a universally respected nightclub, radio and mix CD DJ/host in New Zealand, Sir-Vere has spent decades extensively touring Australia and New Zealand, resulting in over 15 released editions of his never-ending Major Flavours Mix CD series.
With over a quarter of a million Major Flavours CDs sold in New Zealand and Australia, a number one on the Australian ARIA's chart, multiple industry awards on both sides of the ditch, and credit for helping launch the careers of Scribe, Savage and P-Money, DJ Sir-Vere's track record speaks volumes.
Former editor of Rip It Up - New Zealand's longest running music magazine - Sir-Vere can also be found on the airways in Auckland, hosting Mai FM’s Mix Weekends to the country’s biggest urban audience, and is also as Music Consultant for station.
In 2018 Sir-Vere’s impressive list of accomplishments and awards added another from the highest office in the Commonwealth - from the Queen herself. Given the New Zealand Order of Merit, Sir-Vere now carries the O.N.Z.M. letters after his name. Further, Mai received Station of the Year 2018 at the New Zealand Radio Awards – the most distinguished award in all of radio.
Credentials aside, it’s at DJ residences across New Zealand and Australia, where Sir-Vere really comes into his own is in the club. Rocking crowds with both turntables and a microphone, whether he's serving commercial anthems or underground bangers, you get exactly what you need.
Having completed slots opening for artists ranging from Six60 to Missy Elliot, and DJ Premier to Raekwon - it's safe to say this DJ ain't half-stepping; and will have his cake and eat it. Heck, he might even offer you a slice.