Tag Archives: street signs

Melbourne’s Street Names

When I was at university there was a student, I won’t mention any names because he now works as a lawyer, who stole street signs with the name of the person for 21st birthday present. There were a lot of 21st birthday presents to collect and he became very experienced at removing street signs. It eventually backfired when he stole the street named after the birthday boy’s grandfather.

Street signs are the collective consciousness of the city written up as addresses. Melbourne often does have that much imagination when it comes to naming streets, lots of old signs of loyalty to the British Empire or pathetic memorials to old city councillors. How streets got their names is one of the boring subjects that urban historians engage in (for that kind of thing see eMelbourne Lanes and Alleys). I could comment on the recent addition of green historical note signs underneath some of the street signs.

In the late 19th Century Melbourne City Council was often petitioned to change the name of lanes that had acquired a bad reputation, for example Romeo Lane became Crossley Street. In the late 20th Century Melbourne City Council took to renaming lanes as tourist attractions and to celebrate local international stars: Dame Edna Everage (surrounded by bulbs like a make-up mirror) and AC/DC Lane (with lightning stroke). There are some streets still need to be renamed; Coco Jackson Lane in Brunswick needs to be renamed to remove the racist nickname “coco” from the street named after the boxer.

But there are also some amusing street names in Melbourne.

To Punch Lane – doesn’t Melbourne have enough problems with violence?

While I’m on this subject of the history of Melbourne’s street names – locals refer to ‘the Paris End’ of Collins Street without remembering why. It was the presence of the artist’s studios and not the later addition of street planting of trees that lead to the eastern end of Collins Street being called “the Paris end”. Melbourne’s first sculptor Charles Summers started the trend. He had a studio and foundry in Collins Street where he cast the Burke and Wills Memorial in 1865. The sculptor Margaret Baskerville (1861-1930) had her studio in Collins Street. She married the painter and sculptor C.D. Richardson in 1914 and Richardson also had his studios conveniently located in Collins Street. Grosvenor Chambers, a custom built complex of artist’s studios at 9 Collins Street housed many famous Australian artists including Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Clara Southern, Charles Conder, E. Phillips Fox, John Longstaff, Max Meldrum, Mirka Mora, Albert Tucker and Wolfgang Sievers. It was established in 1888 and held artists studios until the mid 1970’s when all but the facade of the building was demolished. Artists still have studios in the city but the Paris End of Collins Street has become too expensive.


Street Artists on Exhibition

There are currently a few exhibitions around Melbourne with new work from some notable street artists.

Two notable Melbourne street artists are exhibiting at Platform: Tom Sevil (AKA Civil) and Marc de Jong (AKA marcsta). Tom Civil is exhibiting large illustrations of populations at war and peace in paint and marker pen on paper. These new stick-figure illustrations bare no resemblance to his old stencil art images. Except, in the underlying theme of human political, civil relationships and in the clarity of Civil’s communication. I have not seen Civil’s work for a while because I have not been looking in the right places, his illustrations are widely published and he has even been doing stencils on the Channel 10 TV show Guerrilla Gardeners. Marc de Jong is exhibiting a large series of parody public signs in green and white reflective signs and the illuminated “Exist” sign. Although this parody of civic communication and the well-ordered society with word play has been done many times before de Jong makes it fun and fresh with the use of local slang into play with: “She’ll Be Rite”.

At Famous When Dead there is a solo exhibition by Sydney street artist George Hambov (AKA ApeSeven) – House of the Wind Blown Clouds. This body of work has been exhibited twice before in Sydney but this my first sight of it.

Hambov’s paintings play with dynamic superhero robotic forms as art. The paintings have evidence of being handmade: drips, brush strokes, splatters and the surface built up on old Japanese newspaper stuck to canvas. And the images are as much formal explorations of design as illustration. The exhibition is like panels for a vast, never to be written comic book. The story of the robot anti-hero “3 of 5″ and the alchemy that occurs it is exposed to ethereal power is the usual mix of the mythological science fiction or the unknown magic of superheroes. There is a wall painting and another little side part of the exhibition are three painted hipflask bottles, the “Katalyst” for the story, a technical achievement with the right paints and hairdryer George Hambov explained to me at the Friday night exhibition opening.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,018 other followers

%d bloggers like this: