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Artist adds colour to Thames landscape

Creating street art can be like putting on a performance, says the woman behind two new brightly-coloured murals in Thames. 

It’s public, it’s personal, and at times it can be pretty “intense”. 

The Thames Community Board commissioned and paid $20,820 for Auckland artist Erika Pearce to design and paint two murals for the town centre, as part of the district council’s ‘Create the Vibe Thames’ project. 

The first, on the wall of Stirling Sports on Mary St, was completed in October, and features a deep sunset and The Pinnacles mountainscape. The second, a mammoth 24.5m in length, was finished in December and is located on the wall of Baxters, next to the Thames Library.

Erika, who has been a full-time artist for eight years, told The Profile that painting on such a large canvas could be “quite hard physically, but also mentally”.

“But the thing I love about street art is it makes art really accessible, and because we went with something really bright and fun, and that used nature, it doesn’t exclude any one.” 

Erika’s connection to Thames was formed in 2019, and during the Covid-19 lockdown last year, she was contacted by the district council ahead of the launch of ‘Create the Vibe Thames’, an opportunity to “reimagine” the town’s CBD.

“It was such a difficult year for me personally, but knowing how much art can make a positive impact is something I found really special.”

Since starting her career, Erika, 33, says she has seen more and more communities incorporate street art into their landscapes.

“It’s really big in small towns. I grew up in Auckland on the North Shore, and there it can be really slow, but small towns are wonderful for it,” she says.

“The people are always so stoked, and they make an effort to come down and say hi and to make you feel really welcome.”

But even street art can be a fleeting expression, she says.

“I’ve been doing it for so long that some of my stuff isn’t around anymore. The thing with street art is it has that semi-permanent nature, which is cool because then you just have to enjoy it for what it is.” 

Thames Community Board chair Strat Peters said one of the main points from ‘Create the Vibe’ was to ask how the council might create a welcoming, vibrant and people-focused space in the Thames CBD.

“One of the key focus areas was to commission some appropriate murals, together with other ideas, and we are lucky to have Erika’s talents onboard,” he said.

“The murals are getting wonderful feedback from our community and I think they make Thames CBD a happier space to be in.”

Erika already has the first few months of 2021 booked. She can be contacted through her website,


PHOTO: Erika Pearce’s Stirling Sports mural features bold kiwiana touches.