The New Zealand city of Dunedin is copping flak over an NZD$8,350 mural of pop star Ed Sheeran, which is currently being painted ahead of the pop star’s local concerts.
Artist Tyler Kennedy Stent has been commissioned by the Enterprise Dunedin group to paint the singer on a Bath Street wall, but some Kiwi musos are pretty confused by the whole thing, and have questioned why Sheeran is being given a mural over local artists.
“Ed, for all his qualities, seems like an unusual choice,” frontman of Dunedin band The Chills, Martin Phillipps, told Stuff. “I do think something like this is better spent celebrating local arts.”
Sheeran has acknowledged the controversy surrounding the mural, telling TVNZ that it’s up to to the locals to decide if they want it or not.
“Not everyone in New Zealand likes me, so of course some people are gonna be like, ‘Oh, that’s a bad idea,’ he said.
“But if it makes someone happy… The more and more life goes on, the older I get, the less I care about people’s opinions.”
Kennedy Stent also told Stuff that while he won’t be attending any of Sheeran’s concerts, he believes the singer “is a role model to people globally”.
“He’s a pop star not all about the gram, the fame and money,” he said. “The world is getting smaller, through social media. [Enterprise Dunedin] is trying to keep Dunedin relevant, globally.”
Dunedin is expecting to host over 60,000 visitors and 100,000 concertgoers when Sheeran plays in the city over the Easter weekend. During that time, some streets will be closed to create “a central pedestrianised hub for all things Ed”.
There will also be an ‘Easter Ed Hunt’ during Sheeran’s concert weekend, where the public will be urged to take photos in front of specific locations with the hashtags #Paintthetowned and #DunnerStunner.
Enterprise Dunedin Director John Christie said the events will help promote Dunedin to the world.
“As a relatively small city by global standards, we are incredibly fortunate to have world class facilities such as the Forsyth Barr Stadium for hosting major events,” he said.
“With each and every concert or sporting match that chooses to visit Dunedin, there is an opportunity to reaffirm our capability and attractiveness as a host city and visitor destination.
“Projects such as the Ed Sheeran street art and significant city dressing and events programme, all demonstrate Dunedin’s unique and immersive approach to this goal and the fact that on this occasion, we will literally Paint the Town Ed.”
Before heading over the ditch, Ed Sheeran continues his current Australian tour with a final show in Melbourne tonight, before heading to Sydney and Brisbane.
Watch his TVNZ and check out photos of Tyler Kennedy Stent’s mural, below.