From empty to living, the windows of buildings become the drawing board of the designer


Artist Nelson Ann Braunsteiner completes work on her work titled

Braden Fastier / Stuff

Artist Nelson Ann Braunsteiner is finishing work on her work titled “Punk It Up”.

Nelson’s Hardy St pedestrians previously wouldn’t have looked at the empty store at the entrance to Montgomery Square.

The store was once the location of the KB bakery and had been empty since the lockdown last year. Now the building is impossible to miss.

Small white figures cross the store windows against a bright pink background. Cartoon houses, speckled circles, and ladders connected to drifting balloons lie between swirling lines. A cheeky slogan saying “your car here” rests near the entrance to the parking lot.

Here is Punk it Up by artist Nelson Ann Braunsteiner. For seven days, Braunsteiner drew in white chalk the inside of the empty 12-meter-long windows of the Hardy St.

* Turning downtown Nelson into an art walk
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The arts are proving to be a powerful tool in helping Kiwis get through the Covid-19 pandemic.

With bold lines and energetic cartoon characters, Punk it Up’s aesthetic was partially inspired by the works of Keith Haring, a popular artist of the 80s, Braunsteiner said.

The work was commissioned by Make / Shift Spaces. Inspired by a global movement, the organization helps artists and tenants revitalize unused urban spaces by transforming them into art.

The artist worked from previous designs. In that, the lockdown was an advantage, Braunsteiner said.

Although she was “ready to go” when the level 4 alert was triggered, Braunsteiner said she appreciated the extra time to plan and prepare for the installation.

A key theme of her installation was usability, she said. The pink background represented a safe space and celebrated the connection in a time of constant change.

Braunsteiner said the response to his work has been “amazing”. The artist played music through speakers as she drew and danced to it as she worked.

Onlookers danced alongside him from the street. It was an upbeat and uplifting experience, said Braunsteiner, and those positive vibes are reflected in the work itself.

“It’s just a happy job.”

The pink background represented a safe space and celebrated the connection in a time of constant change.

Braden Fastier / Stuff

The pink background represented a safe space and celebrated the connection in a time of constant change.

The Hardy St location is currently leased by Nick Widley, owner of Kismet Cocktail and Whiskey Bar.

Widley had rented the location before the lockdown last year, with a plan to expand the Kismet Bar in the old bakery. After the announcement of containment, the project was suspended.

Widley said that starting next week, construction of the empty store will begin to turn it into an additional seating area for Kismet. Hopefully the space will be ready for use by Christmas.

Braunsteiner’s work can be seen on his Instagram page here. The artist is currently co-owner and gallery owner of project space 18a with Lee Woodman.


One of New Zealand’s most influential visual artists – Billy Apple – has passed away. He was an icon of the Arts Foundation and an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

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