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Street Appeal

Hayley King, aka Flox, is an Auckland-based street artist whose artistic style contrasts native New Zealand flora and fauna against the gritty backdrop of an urban canvas.

“Art is all about connecting with people,” says Flox. “Outdoor murals are particularly successful platforms for creating this connection. I’ve always been of the mindset that I want my art to be accessible to all communities, not just people with the dollars. There’s something so enriching about placing your art into an outdoor context where anyone can view and feel that connection.”

NEWS-BANNER-e1588288649830.jpgStarting as a stencil artist in 2003, Flox has painted an impressive portfolio of public spaces, with murals from Auckland to Bluff. She is also the artist behind the TVNZ Breakfast studio background. Much of her art features New Zealand native birds, with the motif even inspiring her moniker – Flox is short for “Flocks of Birds.” It is this contrast of nature against brick and concrete, and the reactions her art elicited, that pushed her forward.

“Earlier on in my career, when I was practicing a lot of street art, I realised pretty quickly that something so feminine and organic had never really been seen in an urban context before, and I think people really resonated with that.”

When asked for her favourite piece, Flox chose her words like any diplomatic parent might.

IMG_9675.jpg“I don’t think I could pick a favourite artwork, as every piece has its own set of merits and memories. I love a good challenge though, so I do feel particularly satisfied after a large piece. We’ve painted a few schools around Auckland, one of which we still get incredible feedback for, and that’s Edendale Primary in Sandringham. The school asked us to paint the entire front façade, and we gave it a major facelift. From a drab and plain façade to one of colour and joy, it was a pleasure to see the kids’ eyes light up and watch the piece unfold.”

You might not think of art as a physical work, but Flox has the aches and pains to prove the naysayers wrong. When she started suffering migraines and facial pain in 2018, she knew something was up. Flox IMG_3518.jpg

“Stencil cutting is so hard on the body. It’s okay if it’s a hobby, but if you’ve pushed your body to the limits for 20 years, then something’s got to give. Painting with aerosol is also really demanding, and when you combine the two, you’ve got some major repetitive stress on the body and the nerves.”

“As a result of this massive hurdle, I changed my process. I made changes to my practice that aided in my own self-care. I now draw my stencils on an iPad Pro and outsource the cutting, and the big outdoor pieces are always collaborations which include lots of free-hand elements, so I’m not relying solely on myself for the physical grunt work.”

“Like the pandemic, and how this has impacted businesses, you have to learn to adapt. If you don’t, then you’ll simply sink.”

IMG_5418.jpgWhen she’s not out painting the town, Flox gets about in a Jimny, with a highly inventive name: The Jimny. She loves how it’s so versatile – perfect for hitting the road to the beach or heading into the mountains, yet zippy enough to navigate the urban jungle.

And yet, despite her prodigious artistic skills, the vehicle remains unadorned.

“I am such an undercover gal. I’ve painted cars before and loved it as a canvas, but for my own wheels, I like to keep it more incognito. We have gone all out on customising our Jimny though, with a black painted roof, all terrain wheels, red mudflats, and bull bar. We even got ourselves a roof tent recently, so we’re ready to go WILD!”