Two years ago the two most dynamic places for street art in Melbourne’s CBD were Hosier Lane and the alley off Centre Place. Both of these are locations for Andy Mac’s City Lights project. City Lights are light-boxes with art rather than advertising in them that started in 1996. Things have changed.
Last year there was construction in the alley off Centre Place and a new entrance was added to the adjacent office building. The renovations have halved the number of City Light light-boxes from 4 to 2. Now there are more people than ever using the alley for cigarette breaks and less street art. There are lots of advertising posters and taggers, repeating their viral message ad infinitum. I see the “Again” paste-up again, an ironic comment on repeated messages.
There is a new aerosol painting of a wizard are still a few stencils and paste-ups surviving amidst the chaos of tags and cigarette butts in Centre Place. There was also a work of street sculpture, a small, locked wooden box attached to a brass plate that was securely bolted to the wall. The box has a painted red heart, metal fittings and “KDG -Everything for love” on an engraved brass plate.
Hosier Lane is still attractive looking attractive and has new, large, fresh works by the Everfresh crew, the Lads and Ghostpatrol in collaboration with Renka. Older quality works are respected until someone can put something better up; HaHa’s series of stencil portraits of Melbourne gangsters are appropriately placed behind bars years later. The word “Material” with letters made from different fabrics is still hanging high up.
Tourists slowly wander up Hosier Lane taking photographs with an average dwell time of 10-15 minutes. The tourists in Hosier Lane have that slow art gallery walk, looking around them in wonder before focusing their digital camera on some more street art.
Major factors in the decline in the street art around Centre Place have been the lack of interest from the businesses, the new building entrance, combined with the fame of the location. This has also been the case with last years the street art project along Union Lane off the Burke St. mall – it has also been covered in tags. Hosier Lane remains fresh and different because of the continued interest and involvement of its businesses and residents.