March – Street Art Notes

Construction work in the city at Centre place since early February has reduced the space in the alley considerably. The construction on the building at the end of the alley has a temporary fence blocking off half the alley. And with the usual bins there is almost now space left for the art. Despite the construction school groups are still going to see the graffiti there.

There has been another change on the wall near Brunswick Station formerly painted with a scene from Alice in Wonderland. It is the third time that this wall has been painted this year, the work is getting better dynamic pink and purple letters on a brown background, but the turn over is more amazing. Although it is often claimed that street art is transitory many good pieces remain for years, like the Mr Hyde figure a few metres away.

Good works of street art, that I have seen recently, is a simple but effective paste-up of a single colour stencil of Jesus carrying a paint roller instead of a cross.  Another one, just off McKillop St., in an alley before Bourke St, Happy has colourful paste up of Pinocchio dead, hung by his own long nose. Happy is also responsible for the paste-up yellow Mr Happy figure who is about to explode. Evidently Happy is cynical about happiness. Happiness is not questioned, or perceived to be of importance in contemporary culture but I am happy that Happy is doing something about it.

There is large wall aerosol collaboration in the opposite alley in Mc Killop St. – I am not picking out this one in particular, there are so many of these beautiful walls in the small alleys and lanes of Melbourne, Brunswick, Fitzroy and Collingwood. It makes urban exploration more entertaining. I enjoyed finding Ghostpatrol’s painting on the side of a house in Hertford St., Fitzroy: a group of people in animal skins at night plan a trip from Here to There on a map.

When will one of these walls be preserved (in more than just jpeg format) for future generations and moved to a public art gallery? When will a public art gallery commission a street art wall? Perhaps, removing street art from the street would be the wrong way to approach it as it removes the art from the architectural and psychological context of the street. In this case a tour of the street art, like the rgular groups of high school students and teachers, would be more appropriate, even if the street art is not preserved. Andrew McDonald, founder of Citylights, has been running tours of Melbourne’s CBD street art for NGV members and the public.


About Mark Holsworth

Writer and artist Mark Holsworth is the author of two books, The Picasso Ransom and Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

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