Tag Archives: bicycle path

Brunswick Graff by Bike

A self guided bicycle tour of Brunswick’s street art and graffiti. Seeing graffiti by bicycle is probably one of the best ways because many are located on bike paths and it is easy to stop and take a look along some of the laneways have bluestone cobbles that make for uncomfortable riding.

This is a circuit ride of about 7km looking at some of the better sites for street art in Brunswick.

It starts on the Capital City Trail goes along the Liner Park Reserve bike path to Lygon Street. This part through the park doesn’t have much graffiti but is a great stretch of bike path to ride along. It is a pity that there isn’t still a train-line linking the Upfield Line to Clifton Hill that would be excellent.

Then its north along Lygon Street (no bike path) where there are a number of locations. Across to the Upfield bike on either Victoria or Albert Street, both have speed humps that retard the cars.

Follow the Upfield bike path north to the old silos at Tinning Street with a few visits to side streets. And the turning around and going south along the Upfield bike path back to the Capital City Trail and the beginning of this loop. You will cover some of this path twice but there is plenty of graffiti to keep your eyes busy. There are lots of graffiti pieces along the railway line often both sides – people go large here.

I haven’t given a great deal of detail about who has done what pieces because of the quantity and because the works are not permanent and may have changed by the time you see them.

Upfield line wall - Brunswick

Upfield line wall – Brunswick

Thanks to Spencer David (aka Spud Rokk) for the inspiration and cruising around the suburb trying to make a bike tour at the beginning of 2011.

MoreArts & ArtLand

In a patch of grey blue gravel on a vacant lot beside the train tracks two sheep formed of growing green grass graze. If we are what we eat then sheep are grass. The grass and weeds along the fence-line frame this surreal sight. It is Candy Stevens’s “Landscape Gardeners” part of MoreArts.

Candy Stevens, “Landscape Gardeners”, 2011

Following up on my previous post, Paradigm Shift in Public Art, the annual MoreArts exhibition is a series of installations along in Moreland along the Upfield train-line between Jewell Station and Gowrie Station. There is a lot of wasteland that once was part of the light industrial area beside the tracks.

Many of the installations are site-specific. Tobias Hengeveld “Lookin’ Back Down the Line” used Brunswick stations old station office and ticket booth for the installation site. At the now un-staffed station the strains of American folk music echoed inside the disused station; from the ticket booth you could see warm orange light defused through a screen.

Many of the installations took advantage of the ubiquitous chain-link fences around these disused sites. Sansern (Zood) Rianthong’s “The Fence” used plastic straws to draw images on the fence. The chain-link fences also provided some security for the work. Michelle Robinson’s “Fugitive Piano” looked somewhat clichéd and by the time I photographed it the piano stool had become fugitive – so much for the effectiveness of the chain-link fence.

ArtLand at RMIT’s Brunswick campus was a geographically logical end for my ride to see MoreArts and many of RMIT’s students had wanted to participate (60 of them). But the result was poor quality art plonked everywhere around the campus with little consideration for the location; lots of stuff hanging from trees. Amongst this there were some gems, like Sharmiza Abu Hassan’s “Metamorphosis” where locally collected Kurrajong seedpods were painted with a Malay motif and attached in a pattern using Velcro strips to the trunk of a tree. Ricky Bhutta’s “Brunswick’s finest” had images on t-shirts that referred to the factories and graffiti opposite the carpark.

Sharmiza Abu Hassan, “Metamorphosis”, 2011

The most convenient way to see the exhibition is to walk or ride a bicycle along the bike track that runs parallel to the train tracks. And there were plenty of people walking and riding the trail to see the exhibition although many missed seeing all of the installations in MoreArt – I spoke to one couple who had only seen two installations between Brunswick and Moreland. There are a number of bicycle tours and walking tours of the exhibition.

Kallie Turner, "The Taste of Salt", 2011

MoreArt is an interesting exhibition for many reasons, one being because it is also in competition with the huge amount of street art on the walls along the railway line (contemporary art installations vs street art).

Some Brunswick Sculptures

Melbourne’s suburb of Brunswick did not inherit many public sculptures from previous generations. The Temperance Movement from early last century erected a few drinking fountains, a couple of war memorials were commissioned, and there is that ugly bronze lump  – now stuck outside a carpark along Sydney Rd., that commemorates the gold rush of the 19th century.

Peter Corlett “Father John Brosnan” 2004

There are now many more contemporary sculptures including some by notable Melbourne sculptors, Peter Corlett (see my entry about Peter Corlett) and Simon Perry. Peter Corlett’s 2004 statue of “Father John Brosnan, Chaplin Pentridge Prison 1945-1985” is out the front of the Brosnan Centre in Brunswick. Simon Perry, whose best-known sculpture, is the “Public Purse” is in the Bourke St. mall, has a number of sculptures around Brunswick.

Simon Perry, “Rolled Path”, 1997

Simon Perry’s “Rolled Path”, 1997, on the Merri Creek bicycle path, north of Albion St. and south of the Brunswick velodrome, is witty and fun. At the end of a short side path, the concrete rolls up into a large cylinder, like a giant classical scroll, or a carpet waiting to be unrolled were its progression not blocked by a large bluestone rock. The sculpture plays with the parkland environment of concrete paths, the boulder is the local bluestone granite found along the creek. It reminds me of Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty”, as a work of earth art because of its form and the invitation to walk a path that ends in the contemplation of art.

“Rolled Path” exhibits many of the qualities that I think are essential to public art. Like all good public art kids can climb on it and you can sit on it. It is practically indestructible without heavy equipment or explosives and even the graffiti that was painted on it when I was there was inconsequential. It fits perfectly into the park environment of Merri Creek, creating an identity for an otherwise nondescript area beside the bicycle path.

“Rolled Path” is a rare example in Moreland of the sculpture that has been incorporated into the design of the landscape. Too often sculpture is put where space can found for it, with little consideration to the landscape or architecture. And for this reason none of these sculptures have become an image for suburb or a meeting place.

At the corner of Sydney and Glenlyon Rd. is a less successful sculpture by Simon Perry. “Monument to free speech” 1993, commemorates artist and activist Noel Counihan. It is a stone carving of a cage being unveiled or covered by a bronze dove. Only 3m high this sculpture is too small to be much of a monument and too ambiguous to be a landmark, given that Australians do not have any rights to free speech. The original commission for this sculpture is probably the source of many of its problems.

Sunny Saturday

The sunny weather on the weekend inspired me to ride by bicycle down the Upfield bike path from Coburg to Brunswick. I had pulled over to the side to photograph a new piece of aerosol art when two cyclists announced: “Two cycles passing”. When I caught up with them at the Moreland Road lights one of the cyclists asked if the piece was one of mine. “No, I just photograph them.” I explained. “There are plenty of good new pieces further on.” They replied, the lights changed and they rode on. I was rode more slowly enjoying the sunshine and keeping my eyes open for new pieces.

I stopped in at Brunswick Art on Little Breese St, out the back of Alasysa Restaurant where I could smell the Turkish bread baking. A guillotine stood ready in the white gallery space; black guillotines are especially theatrical. The guillotine was garlanded with dead and unnatural flowers sparkling with red glitter. There was a pillar toppled by iconoclastic revolt and a new obscured hero on a reinforced plinth; both were painted black with more black garlands. Along with these objects there are two wall paintings, line drawings in black paint. This is “Revolt” by Benjamin Webb. Benjamin Webb told me that it started with the line drawing of the horn of cornucopia that he saw repeatedly in his work at the NGV indexing etchings and lithographs from the 17th Century. The horn of cornucopia spewing out foliage, the spontaneity riotous of growth and life is the inspiration for “Revolt”.

“Revolt” is an image of an expression of the body politics vomiting out new growth. It is a more symbolic exhibition than Webb’s usual materialistic approach to sculpture. I’m not sure that “Revolt” is as well constructed conceptually as it is physically but it was fun and dramatic to look at it.

While I was at Brunswick Arts talking with Benjamin Webb, Michael Scorge dropped in to promote bands and BBQ that afternoon at his Shop31 in Coburg.

This will be Benjamin Webb’s last solo exhibition in Melbourne for a while as he is relocating to Germany. So, I said “bon voyage” to Ben and continued to cycle around Brunswick and photograph more street art. I could have gone on to look at the Counihan Gallery or Ocular Labs but I was curious about Shop31.

I stopped at 696 Ink where Karl Persson was exhibiting more of his macabre and sadistic paintings (see my review of his last exhibition). His current exhibition lacks the quirky details of his earlier paintings; his version of one of Francis Bacon’s “Three studies for figures at the Base of a Crucifixion” looses some art but the sadistic image remains.

Shop31, at 31 Sydney Rd. Coburg, has a bit of everything from local CD, t-shirts, second hand LPs and punk-style stencil art. I had seen the stencil art in the window of the shop when I had passed by before but this was the first time that I had seen it open.

That was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon around my neighbourhood on probably the last warm weekend that Melbourne will have until the end of winter.

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