Paul Walsh's new Mural at Grey Lynn Community Centre

Paul Walsh, the artist who painted the much admired Chorus DSL Cabinets

“I try to brighten people’s day with light-hearted, happy, colourful work,” he says. “Much of my work is influenced by internet memes - shared ideas using humorous images with text added to them. Animal imagery is part of the meme culture and the inspiration for the Chorus utility boxes.”

Two local examples of the 15 Chorus utility boxes painted by Paul, that gained him worldwide publicity, are ‘Ponsonby Pigeon’ on Ponsonby Road and ‘Menswear Dog’ at the Grey Lynn end of Williamson Avenue, outside Kokako Cafe.

Paul initially came to public notice when he anonymously painted ‘Grumpy Cat’ on the water tower at Three Kings, which created a controversy when Watercare painted it out. On seeing the work, Chorus approached him to paint their utility boxes. Chorus wasn’t able to offer him payment at that time, which Paul says gave him complete freedom with the work. To undertake the project he raised funds from the Pledgeme crowdfunding platform. The project “grew legs” and appeared on international websites such as My Modern Met, Laughing Squid, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) and the CNN-affiliated Headline News, amongst others.

Paul is self taught and has been selling his artwork since he was a teenager. He works in a range of mediums and has been displaying his work online since 2000, giving him an international audience. He is soon to produce another work for the community centre, on the theme of worm farming, to tie in with the centre’s next worm farming seminar on Sunday, 30 August.

The Grey Lynn Community Centre established its own worm farm at the time of its first worm farm seminar at the end of June. “We are working towards becoming more sustainable in our community by aiming for zero waste,” says community centre manager Cath Bathe-Taylor. “Through our worm farm seminars we encourage community members to follow suit.” Everyone is welcome to attend on 30 August, from 11-12 noon in the Oval Room. Admission is free.

Every month around 10,000 people visit the community centre for a myriad of reasons. It is truly the centre of the community with its wide range of classes and groups for every age and stage - from the daily Grey Lynn Kids’ Playgroup for the littlies to Chair Yoga for Seniors. Mandarin is the newest group to start. The Sunday Farmers’ Market attracts people from far and wide. The centre’s full programme can be found online or is available from the office just inside the front door. The community centre also offers a range of venues for hire from a small meeting room to the main hall for functions and meetings. (PHILIPPA TAIT)

GREY LYNN COMMUNITY CENTRE, 510 Richmond Road, T: 09 378 4908