Tag Archives: Dean Sunshine

Street Art 2014

Standing on the fourth floor balcony of Emerald House in South Melbourne with a cold beer in my hand watching the sun set from the south-side of the city and contemplating the end of 2014. Around me are many of the luminaries of Melbourne’s street art scene: Factor from Invurt, Luke Cornish (aka E.L.K), Toby from Just Another Agency, Luke McManus, Alison Young, Dean Sunshine, David Russell GT, Mini Graff… enough of the name dropping but you get the picture.

DSC00005

The occasion is the Melbourne premier of a new documentary on street art, Cutback by Rachel Bentley. Cutback was filmed between 2011-2014 in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Berlin, NYC and London this documentary concentrates on the pertinent topic of the acceptance of street art by major art prizes, major galleries and collectors. Cutback is not just a documentary but also a digital platform with more interviews and room to expand.

After the documentary there was a tour of the three story carpark at Emerald House that was painted in 2012 (see my post Melbourne Underground). The paintings are still there and more have been added.

Luke Cornish, Dean Sunshine and Factor

Luke Cornish, Dean Sunshine and Factor

The night before almost the same crew was assembled for the launch of Dean Sunshine’s new book, Street Art Now featuring his photographs of Melbourne and elsewhere. The book launch featured a silent charity auction for a set of large panels by notable artists that were made for Melbourne’s Spring Fashion Week.

Dean Sunshine has made good on his pledge to put the profits of his previous book Land of Sunshine back into more publishing (the same pledge applies to the current book). This time it is a hard back book with better photographs and a foreword by David Hurlston, Australian Art Curator at the National Gallery of Victoria. The photographs are accompanied by online references for each artist acknowledging how much of the street art scene is online.

Every year, there is the launch of another book on Melbourne’s graffiti street art, this year there was two:  Alison Young in Street Art, Public City – Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination (Routledge, 2014) and Dean Sunshine Street Art Now.

Every year in Melbourne’s street art scene it appears as if there is another existential threat to the street art of Hosier Lane, from the departure of Andy Mac, to the CCTV cameras and now the construction of a multi-story hotel. It is a reminder of the ephemeral nature of street art. It is also a reminder of corrupt nature of Australian politics with the then Planning Minister Guy giving the approval for the project as a kickbacks for political donations to his party.

In many ways this year was like any other year in Melbourne. So what else has happened in Melbourne street art scene this year? Otherwise for street art in Melbourne the main story is that it has been a year of murals lots of new big murals around Melbourne, most notably from Rone and Adnate, and the finally restored, old Keith Haring mural.

Rone murals, Lt Collins Street

Rone murals, Lt Collins Street

As the summer sun sinks below the Docklands high rise I contemplate the question: does all this mean that Melbourne’s street art has ‘sold out’, that it has become mainstream, that it is no longer real?

None of what I’ve noted in this post should be taken as evidence for that. Looking at the great wall of skyscraper rising along the Yarra giving way to older low rise buildings, a few with bombs and tags high up on them, there is no reason to believe that Melbourne’s street art, although it is more widely appreciated, has lost its way (see my post from last year for more on the future of street art). Street art and graffiti are not endangered species, rare, fragile things; in Melbourne it is strong, enduring and pervasive. Writers keep spraying, taggers keep tagging, stickers keep sticking, artists keep painting, haters keep hating, and everyones still posting on Facebook or Instagram.

DSCF0187


Hosier Now (All Your Walls)

Peril and Adnate were the just finishing their work around 6:15pm on Friday 29th November. Paris’s piece was cutting into Adnate at the other end and now Peril was asking Adnate to do a bit of fill with over-spraying just under his piece. There were lots of collaborations in Hosier Lane its side branch, Rutledge Lane. For weeks 120 artists, 11 crews, of Melbourne’s best graffers and street artists went a painting all the walls. All the walls? Yes, all your walls.

DSC09020

At 6pm the public had been invited to view the results and this was a Hosier Lane like you have never seen it before – All Your Walls is part of the National Gallery of Victoria’s exhibition Melbourne Now. Two bloggers, Dean Sunshine (Land of Sunshine) and Fletcher Anderson (Invurt) along with Toby (Just Another Agency and who formerly ran 696) organized the event.

Fletch Anderson’s eyes light up when he talks about Melbourne’s street art. He really believes that he is living in the right place at the right time in art history. He really believes that Melbourne’s street art is up there with New York, Sao Paulo, Berlin and Los Angeles. Fletch (aka Factor) is such a believer that he made his dream come true. There were teenagers and old school old hands all painting together. Dean Sunshine told me that there were crews that absolutely hated each other painting at the same time in Hosier Lane.  There were no beefs between the street artists and the graff crews.

“No bullshit, no politics, no problems.” Fletch gives a great quotes when inspired by his vision of an urban paradise of paint.

Hosier Lane was closed off to traffic for the evening. Normally there are a lot of people walking around taking photographs in the lane but this evening capped them all. There were artists, academics, art collectors, hoodie-wearing people, office workers on their way home, residents, street artists showing their kids their work and people who use the social services located in the lane.

The lane got its name because it was originally part of the Melbourne’s garment district. Now the former rag trade warehouses in the area have now been converted to gallery spaces and apartments and the laneway’s walls are Melbourne’s iconic centre for graffiti and street art.

It would have been an urban paradise evening if it weren’t for the freezing cold wind that was ripping through Melbourne. It is hard to be convivial with all these fine people when the cold is rising from the old bluestone cobbles.

In completely repainting the lane they started with an undercoat of black, buffing all previous work in both Hosier and Rutledge. Black… I said something about this colour in my review of Melbourne Now. There is a stencil quote on the laneways from Leonardo da Vinci advocating black as an underpainting.  This was followed by scissor lifts and repeating of the upper levels and finally the lower levels, the areas assigned to various artists marked on the wall.

It is not just aerosol art; there are plenty of paste-ups and installations. Junky Projects has attached an enormous work of junk art to the wall, a Dada/Futurist wet dream. It is one of his largest and most abstract works yet. Lego construction workers by Pop Gun (or “Pop Cap”?) stand on a miniature beam high up on the laneway’s wall. Phoenix has a large cluster of political paste-ups and his Dali butterflies up on the walls.

The walls speak for themselves.DSC09009

DSC09031

DSC09021

In 2010 people speculated what would happen to Melbourne’s iconic Hosier Lane post-Amac when long time resident and un-official curator of the lane, the cowboy hat wearing, Andy Mac (aka Amac) moved out. They were concerned and had good reasons to be Amac had been there in the 1990s at the start of the graffiti and street art in the lane. He added to the lane with the Citylights Project light-boxes and Until Never gallery. Amac was there to tell writers not to tag significant pieces and he organized the painting other pieces.

Post-Amac there were a few problems in the lane – CCTV, RIP Jill Meagher, and endless angry capping. Some people may even consider Doyle’s Empty Nursery Blue as one of the problems but it really cleared the way for All Your Walls. In his piece, Calm comments on Empty Nursery Blue with a gnu buffing with blue.

Calm, All Your Walls

Calm, All Your Walls

The problems in Hosier Lane have been solved with the good will of the residents, Hosier Inc., the City of Melbourne especially City Engineer, Gordon Harrison, the artists, bloggers, the Alley Chats group of interested parties… lots of people are concerned for this lane and its art.

Now the NGV have joined the party including All Your Walls in it’s Melbourne Now era defining exhibition. There have been major exhibitions of street art in major museums around the world but Hosier Lane offer the opportunity for the exhibition to come out of the gallery, and conveniently Hosier Lane is just across Flinders Street from the NGV at Fed Square.

All Your Walls is an era defining moment; it is the first time that all the walls of Hosier Lane have been painted before in such a co-ordinated effort with so many major crews, notable writers and artists. It creates Melbourne’s very own graffiti wall of fame. The major names in Melbourne’s street art scene now have work in Melbourne’s iconic Hosier Lane. In the past you would have to go to Brunswick or Fitzroy to see AWOL’s work, now it is up, high up in Hosier. Old school Melbourne aerosol writers, Paris and Peril and the KSA crew have not been forgotten.

DSC09005

This is going to have implications for the future; such a definitive exhibition promotes ossification. Artists were already talking maintaining their work, about keep their space in the lane as perpetual territory, and their plans to deal with taggers. There is more space between the pieces than there was in the past when the competition was so intense.

When it comes to the future of Melbourne’s street art and Hosier Lane I am not a visionary. I can’t see the future and make it happen but I do know that just as Melbourne Now is a must see exhibition, an era defining moment of Melbourne’s art history, so is All Your Walls.


Melbourne Street Art Blogs

Melbourne’s street art is a great subject for blogging so allow me to introduce the magnificent seven, seven of the best blogs specializing in Melbourne’s street art.

Melbourne Street Art 86 is a great example of a blog on street art. It declares that “Melbourne’s 86 tram route as a giant open air gallery of street art.” And it documents the street art along the number 86 tramline that runs from Bourke Street in the city through Fitzroy, Collingwood, Clifton Hill, Northcote and Thornbury. The entries are ordered by tram stop location and there are PDF maps to download of the areas. The structure and focus of this blog is great as the liner tram route that the blog follows matches the liner nature of street art bombing/tagging missions. Kevin Anslow spent about 200 hours exploring, photographing, and cataloguing geographical details about street art on the route and building the site. “The project kind of evolved spontaneously, but certainly a central motivation is that it was fun and seemed worth doing as a community resource, and one that celebrates public transport and art.” Kevin explained.

Arty Graffarty started in 2010 and has multiple posts, almost everyday for two years. Subscribe to Arty Graffarty if you want to have your email box full. How he is able to identify all these artists and how he has the energy to do this is beyond me. Mostly the blog is photos but he also promotes and reviews many of the street art exhibitions (and it is great to see his reviews getting longer). He knows his traditional graffiti but doesn’t stick solely to looking at that one style.

Invurt by Factor is like a magazine of news, photos and interviews about the Australian street art scene. Factor is an old hand at graffiti in Perth and Melbourne and is still regularly painting on the streets but not as regularly as he is posting on Invurt. Factor says that he aims to keep Invurt positive but recently he has been posting the occasional editorial with a serious tone.

Images to Live By is written by Alison Young with irregular posts to fit in with her busy life but always worth reading. Alison Young is an academic at Melbourne University who studies graffiti and has co-authored the book, From Street to Studio (Thames & Hudson, 2010) with Ghostpatrol and Miso.

Land of Sunshine by Dean Sunshine features photographs and lots of them grouped by subject or artist. Dean is a dedicated photographer of Melbourne’s street art. Last year Dean brought out a book of photographs from his blog –also known as Land of Sunshine (see my review) Another credit for Dean is the actual Land of Sunshine, the painted laneways around the warehouses of his family business in Brunswick.

Fitzroy Flasher started in 2010. It has lots of photographs of street art, mostly in Fitzroy as the name indicates but not exclusively. Although the focus of the blog is on photographs of street art the text is worth a read.

Flinders Street with painted train

Flinders Street with painted train

Many of these blogs are on my blogroll but I thought that I’d introduce them to you and give you a bit of background. I have to declare that I know many of these people socially – hi Alison, Factor and Dean. (Arty Graffarty and Fitzroy Flasher remain a mystery to me).

Wait a moment that’s only six blogs. Where’s the seventh?


Land of Sunshine – book review

Dean Sunshine’s Land of Sunshine – A Snapshot of Melbourne Street Art 2010 – 2012, (Brunswick, 2012) soft-back, 300 pages.

Street art does not last forever, it can’t be preserved on the street, only in endless photos and it takes someone with passion to document this huge explosion in art. And Dean Sunshine’s Land of Sunshine is a snapshot, unashamedly a coffee table photography book. It is mostly photographs and lots of them.

It is not that Dean is a photographer – he photographed it all on his “crappy little digital camera.” (Not that you can tell the price of the camera from the photographs in the book.) Dean Sunshine is Melbourne’s equivalent to New York’s Jack Stewart or John Naar. Dean loves Melbourne’s street art and it was this passion that drove him to document it.

The artists selected in the book haven’t been featured in any of the previous books on Melbourne street art: Adnate, Be Free, CDH, Deb, Drab, Heesco, Kaff-eine, Makatron, Phoenix, Slicer, Suki and Urban Cake Lady. There are plenty of great Melbourne street artists to fill a book but this is a good representative selection of the variety.

The individual artists fill half the book – the other half is full of Melbourne walls, paste-ups, exhibitions, international artists visiting Melbourne and installations. It is great to see that street art exhibitions that have featured notably in the scene in recent years. As I wrote, it is mostly photographs but there is an introduction by Fletch of Invurt and the last word goes to Dean.

First there was Dean Sunshine’s photo collection, then the blog Land of Sunshine and now the book – I am green with envy.  Street art has been a boon to publishers filling many a book. Dean’s passion is the difference with this book; he knows Melbourne’s street art and has diligently ensured that most of the images are correctly attributed in the index.

Two curly haired aficionados of Melbourne street art – Andrew King and Dean Sunshine.

Next came to the book launch a major event in Melbourne’s street art scene. The book was launched in a laneway and studio space in the Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy. The space was decorated with a massive day of painting on the weekend before by Kaff-eine, Lucy Lucy, Adnate, Conrad, Fletch, Shida, Choq Mcp, Junky Projects and other artists. Food and drink for the opening was provided by a plethora of sponsors, DJ Jason Digby was laying down the beats for the evening and the guest list was limited to a couple hundred people. An occasion to meet those unfamiliar faces that you know by name from their art on the street and to catch up with other people who document Melbourne’s street art scene like Vetti, Alison, Lorraine, Fletch and Dean.

Heesco’s Shaman @ the Land of Sunshine book launch


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,095 other followers

%d bloggers like this: