Melbourne is one of those cities that has become famous for its street art. Yes it’s kind of illegal and often temporary but the city authorities turn a blind eye because it keeps the tourists who flock to Melbourne’s grungy, arty scene very happy.
The first thing to remember about street art is that it is not graffiti. Graffiti is about words, about decoding. In fact in cities like Philadelphia, spectacular mural painting has been used as a community anti-graffiti measure.
Street art is the highly skilled work of artists promoting their talents. Street art as a medium took off in New York City in the 60s and 70s with artists such as Andy Warhol paying attention.
Melbourne has also embraced street art and its laneways are wonderful to explore.
Here in Australia, stencil artists like Haha (Regan Tamanui) have even been collected in the Australian National Gallery. Here’s an example that includes his famous Ned Kelly series celebrating the famous Australian bushranger on Stevenson Lane in Melbourne:
Stencil art is to a certain extent spontaneous spray painting but involves some serious drawing skills and a many layered approach that aims to trigger emotion. Subjects are usually drawn from pop art concepts, in other words what’s in the news or what people can relate to. Here are some examples nearby on Tatts Lane:
This large mural on Corrs Lane off Russell Street in Melbourne would also have taken a lot of time to create and contains varied abstract ideas and some less abstract…
The whole of Croft Alley (off Paynes Place) contains one of Melbourne’s best known and extensive street art creations. It’s tucked away but visually stimulating. Even the rubbish bins become part of the canvas…
In a more public place – opposite the entrance to Degraves Lane – a little Albert Einstein sits above the street. He’s a cornflour glue ‘pasteup’.
Here’s another cool paste up mixed with graffiti:
Melbourne’s laneways are often a bit smelly and I admit I didn’t hang around admiring the art for hours…
But I have been impressed at some of the very fine stencil work in particular.
Do you love street art? I think Melbourne has some outstanding examples. What’s your favourite city for street art?