Tag Archives: Land of Sunshine

Melbourne’s Best?

”I doubt it’s something the authorities are particularly proud of, but Melbourne street art leads the world.” – Banksy (The Age, May 29, 2010)

Land of Sunshine, Brunswick

Land of Sunshine, Brunswick

David Hurlston, curator of Australian art at the National Gallery of Victoria, said Melbourne’s street art was “the most distinctly identifiable cultural and contemporary artistic movement to have occurred in Australia over the past 30 years”. (see Stuff Travel)

I’m always suspicious when I hear Australians make the claim “amongst the best in the world” even when they are quoting a foreign visitor like Banksy. But people often ask me where does Melbourne street art and graffiti rate compared to other cities in the world?

I thought that I’d take a different approach and count the references for cities listed in Cedar Lewison Street Art – The Graffiti Revolution (Tate Publishing, London, 2008) Melbourne comes out in at number 5: New York 34, London 15, Sao Paulo 9, Paris 7, Melbourne 5; with 2 each for Madrid, Berlin, Bologna and Bristol; and 1 for Los Angles, Liverpool and San Francisco. More research is still needed; a larger data set of books, but you can see the approach to take.

Perhaps a more interesting topic that rating Melbourne is to look at how various elements contributed to this creativity from the public transport structure to other parts of city design. The radial spoked “intergrated network” of public transport created an accessible centre of activity (in the same way that it has concentrated drunken violence). And this ensured that in the 1980s painted train carriages could be seen on any of the suburban lines, now the trains are mostly graf free but the walls along all these train lines are still painted.

Paintspotting* in various cities around the world (New York, London, Paris, Dublin and Greece) it is clear to me one reason why Melbourne is so highly regarded. The street art is so accessible; you don’t need to explore very far in order to find some great pieces. In the inner city, Hosier Lane is just off Flinders Street and Fitzroy or Collingwood are just short tram rides away.

The centre of Melbourne is a 1.28 square kilometres of shopping, business, residential, entertainment, restaurants and government buildings defined by Hoddle’s grid of streets. Melbourne’s main streets, as originally surveyed by Hoddle are 99 feet wide with the smaller street 33 feet wide. (A geomancer with a numerological bent should be able to do something with those numbers.) Weaving between the streets are the lanes that makes an excellent, if discreet, surfaces for street art. If you think that all of Melbourne’s lanes are full of street art, you haven’t looked down enough there are so many.

Melbourne has a vibrant street culture; I go away for a few weeks and my email box is full of posts from Arty Graffarti. Taking a ride around Brunswick today I saw many fresh pieces and some guys starting some more in Ilham Lane, north of Tinning Street. They had just started on the outlines when I passed buy and more writers were arriving for an afternoon of paint. On a sunny day it doesn’t really matter what your ranking in the world is.DSC08307

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* Paintspotter, noun, definition: like a trainspotter but for people who look for street art and graffiti (a portmanteau word coined by Fletcher “Factor “Anderson of Invurt).


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


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