A billboard that’s not about buying stuff you don’t need
Not long after our family came to Auckland (1997) a guy came in to our shop lugging all his camera gear to shoot some products for the NZ Herald. Within minutes he was making lame jokes and bossing us around and we were like old friends even though we’d just met. The photographer was Mark Smith and we’re so glad he came in that day because he and his big sister Deborah Smith have since photographed all the black and white images on our labels that we love and that ecostore is now famous for (because we were poor back then they started out doing this for love and products).
The photograph on the billboard outside the ecostore shop right now and until January 2011 is by Mark Smith and the apple blonde cutie out front is his baby boy. Mark’s photo is the second artwork to grace our billboard which is a project that’s sponsored by the Fairground Foundation (a not for profit arm of ecostore). The idea of the billboard is to celebrate the connection between artists and business without labouring the point. We were hoping that people would notice the billboard and the spirit in which it was put out there and that they’d wonder about it, and talk about it.
Something that inspired us to start on this project was a panel discussion that Malcolm and I went to at the Sydney Opera House in 2009 that was hosted by James Thornton and Brian Eno. The symposium was calling for a new ‘renaissance’ in the face of unprecedented environmental crisis and talked about the kinds of break-though possibilities that art can make available to business.
The billboard concept is not unlike a project that Mark and his sister Deb set up a while back called Cake. When I mentioned this to him, he said;
It’s heavenly to be offered the chance to liberate a favourite image on a grand scale, and it is definitely ‘Cake’.... which was about presenting photographic imagery to a very wide egalitarian audience, using AO scale posters.
I like the tie in with creativity and business, ‘Cake’ also came about through our observations of all the public spaces that were available to billboards and posters, everything you looked at was predominantly advertising, and ‘Cake’ was supposed to be a small visual treat that was just that, a visual treat with no clip ons for viewers, and an outlet for us to share a favourite photo.
In case you’re wondering, we use a recycled skin for the billboard and we always de-staple and reuse our old skins. They make excellent ground covers.