City Canvas for Artistic Talent

  • City Canvas
    Jessie Smith

The fragility and singularity of Auckland’s K Road was brought to life in street art by Unitec students last Saturday night.

Aspiring painter and photographer, Jessie Smith, is one of the four Unitec students from the new Bachelor of Creative Enterprise (BCE) programme who worked on a “White Night” installation in Cross Street Arcade as part of the Auckland Arts Festival. Their work was inspired by drag queens, prostitution and human trafficking.

Jessie says the process of live street art is exciting and unnerving as a painter. “It’s five hours of painting and an emotional process. Sometimes I have been completely engrossed in the street painting, then turned to find a crowd watching me.”

Paul Woodruffe, Senior Lecturer in Creative Industries explains Unitec’s involvement with the annual arts festival. “White Night is a celebration of creativity and it introduces the students to creative practice beyond the studio. It is important for our students to connect with their audience before graduation and we firmly believe that the streets and public spaces of our city are also places of learning.”

“All the projects we work on are real life,” says Jessie.

Last year Jessie was part of a team which won Best Collaboration at Unitec’s Gradfest for their work with One Tree Hill College creating a mural in a tunnel leading to the nearby train station.  She also came third in the DataComp Hackathon for the best app design. Now she is on the lookout for a public space or willing business to complete a Valspar-sponsored mural with fellow BCE student Danae Ripley.

Jessie intends to continue her educational path by starting a Master’s programme in 2018 while developing her own practice as an abstract and figurative painter and fashion photographer.