Hosier Lane’s two sides

Looking at that famous Melbourne laneway of street art and graffiti now is like a portrait of the city post-lockdown. It has two sides.

On one side of Hosier Lane is Culture Kings, purveyors of designer streetwear and their wall painted by some hired gun aerosol painter. Further down that side of the lane are pieces by artists with @Instagram names painting anything they think will make them popular. Another set of wings to pose in front of for a selfie to bore your friends by El Rolo (aka Carlos Mejia, a graphic designer specialising in “illustration, packaging and commercial art”). El Rolo has been painting more than his fair share of walls in Hosier Lane for over a year, and I try to ignore it. His art is slightly less shallow when he collaborates with another South American artist also based in Melbourne Oskr who does calligraphic work — or what he calls “calligraffiti”.

Oskr & El Rolo

On the other side of Hosier Lane is The Living Room providing aid for the homeless and the homeless in their genuine streetwear. The walls on this side are painted in a mixture of styles and techniques. On this side of the lane, the art is wild and free. On the wall opposite Culture Kings, there is a painted protest with placards calling for “free weed,” “dry socks,” and simply “change”. This seated man is a reference to Melbourne stencil artist Meek’s Begging for change 2004, an image of a seated man with a placard that reads “keep your coins, I want change.” Further down, another artist has preserved a paste-up by Barak, bringing it into the literally hand-painted and hand-printed landscape. 

Trying to decipher this gestalt graphic of the two sides of this laneway, illustrating the contrast between those that see the city as a place, like home, and those who see it as a commercial opportunity. In several places a stencil of “IF” in large Times Roman font has been sprayed.

Meanwhile, AC/DC Lane, just a few lanes up from Hosier, remains the place for quality street art.

About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

3 responses to “Hosier Lane’s two sides

  • Tatiana

    I don’t get why is important to mention the background of the artists (south American)it seems so rude and also so racist!
    Art is for everyone and is made to make us free in every way who decides what is good and what is not?. we have to stop sharing so much hate. There is enough of that already!

    • Mark Holsworth

      There is too much love in the world and not enough hate. Too much love of Church and State. Too much love for Putin, Trump, and greedheads, including El Rolo, who was exploiting Hosier Lane. You say art is for everyone but El Rolo would paint over your art if he could get more space in Hosier Lane, so go ahead, love being exploited if you want.
      That said, I have nothing against South Americans, but I was surprised to find two painting in Hosier Lane at the same time. I have nothing against Oskr calligraffiti, but I think he has too much love for El Rolo and that he shouldn’t work with him.

  • Melbourne Street Art May 2022 | Black Mark

    […] lane as I walked down its bluestones to Flinders Lane. There are still two sides to the lane (see my post) — a facile commercial and a sensitive community side. Lots of new paste-ups, people are really […]

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