Manda Lane and Melbourne Lanes

Very little grows in the laneways of Melbourne. The sun refuses to shine there, and the granite, concrete, and brick offer little room for plants. Yet paint and paper foliage climbs the walls from flower pots or springs forth full of life — the creations of Melbourne street artist Manda Lane.

Full disclosure (words few art critics write) I commissioned Manda Lane to do a piece in my backyard. The professionalism that Manda Lane brought to the commission rivalled the architects. Showing the client what the finished work will look like is a winner.

Her work looks great against the black Weathertex panels of a new minimalist construction by DiMase Architects. The new garden has yet to be planted. It is on the east wall, so it will be out of the sun and partially sheltered from the rain. So it is expected to last for years. Having watched many a paste-up slowly decay on laneway walls in Melbourne, I am looking forward to the effects of time on it. 

Paste-ups are meant to be quick to install. Produced in the artist’s studio, they are then glued to a wall. However, Manda Lane’s intricate hand-cut work took hours to glue to the wall. Usually, this is faster because she can work from the top down and have gravity assist the process, but it is still time-consuming. Paste-up paper cuts are like the reverse of cutting out a stencil, and Manda Lane is not the first of Melbourne’s street artists to do them; Miso was doing them years ago.

Manda Lane also paints her foliage designs with a brush on walls, another slow process she has used on a wall in Hosier Lane and the Temple of Boom at the NGV. (See my earlier post.)

Manda Lane is one of the Ninjas of Street Art. Some of them might appear as suburbanites or hipsters by day, but then they transform into street artists. Rumours they foiled a far-right terror plot using stealth, subterfuge and artistry are, unfortunately, unconfirmed; the Ninjas are just a group of artists who get together to socialise and put up street art. They are currently responsible for much of the street art in Presgrave Place and other lanes in Melbourne.


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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