Street Art Railway Notes

Pranksters struck at one of Melbourne’s train stations again. This time they altered a ticket machine’s instructions to dispense university degrees. The alterations used stickers of the same color and typeface, cut to fit over the existing information, it was so subtle that staff at the station didn’t notice them until informed by a confused customer. (Thanks to Jane for the photos.)

Lench's blockbuster since buffed

Being an appreciative observer of street art along the Upfield train line I have to comment on Lench KSA (Kickin Some Arse). His revival of the blockbuster style advertises his name clearly – what more can I say about a trademark and instant fame apart from technically analyzing the fonts that he uses. Actually there is more Lench is an active aerosol writer with other styles than his visible blockbuster pieces.

Anonymous pranks and instant fame are two extremes in street art. What is more important the idea or the identity? Or is it to make the neglected urban areas more beautiful? Graffiti is part of the urban system; like the fungi that live on rotting wood and have brightly colored fruiting bodies, orange shelf fungus, small blue parasols and others, aerosol graffiti converts neglected areas into works of art.  And on the subject of neglected areas, a major area of neglect in Melbourne is the public transport system.

Graffiti writers have mixed feelings about the transport network, they love the lines and rolling stock like train-spotters, the writers see train carriages and nearby walls as their canvases. The railways also bring the public to their art, or the other way around. Yet attacking the train system is a major motivation in Melbourne graffiti, as it is in other cities. The rail operators see the graffiti writers as their natural enemy. And, consequently, as in many cities the train operators and their thugs (also known as “authorized officers”) are seen as the enemy by graffiti writers – but in Melbourne the general public sympathize with this view.

All of Melbourne, especially the graffiti crews have been relieved not to have Connex running the train system even though the new train operators, Metro haven’t improved things. Hatred of Melbourne’s train system is so popular that it has its own Facebook page. I hate Connex/Metro, with 16,947 members when I looked. There are more examples of culture jamming the Connex system in the photo section of this Facebook group.

Cue some hobo railroad music:

“Oh, I don’t like a railroad man/ for a railroad man will kill you if he can/ and drink up your blood like wine.” Bascam Lamar Lunsford, “I wish I was a Mole In the Ground” (1929)


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

4 responses to “Street Art Railway Notes

  • vettiliveinnorthcote

    I just love the ticket machine’s new look – and hope to see more of the same around town!

  • Madame Messtro

    By some stroke of chance, I found your website via my wordpress site. Not sure how or why, but I’m glad I did! Love your blog especially this post. I used to live in Melbourne as a student, and my! I sure miss this funky side of the place. the new look for ticketing machine is hilarious to me since Melbourne is, as has been since my student days, one educational hotspot for international students!

    • Mark Holsworth

      Finding other blogs is an interesting aspect to writing a blog on wordpress, the automatically generated links that appear at the bottom of some entries, tags etc. lead in some surprising directions. And thanks for reminding me, and the readers, with your comment that the new ticket machine look has some depth in commenting about international students and Melbourne’s education industry.

  • newseyebd

    great photo of the world i like this photo ((((((((LIKE)))))))) ((((((THIS)))))) ((((((VERY))))) ((((((MUCH))))) thank you admin

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