Tag Archives: Psalm

Coburg graffiti and street art

Street-level art criticism and being aware of what is happening in my neighbourhood. Coburg graffiti and street art continue to work their way northwards piece by piece and to use the piers along the new elevated railway. And I’m still walking (and riding my bike) around these streets, lanes and paths, photographing it.

There is a good collection of graffiti pieces around Batman Station. (When will that station get a name change from that of a genocidal killer?) Playing with letterforms like a signwriting class on acid; Digs playing with different styles in the one piece.

Further back from the railway, walls that would have sported advertising a century ago are now decorated with street art. Commissioned murals legal walls, along with random stencils and tags.

However, as usual, my eye is drawn to the smaller stuff. Many fun stickers, including some espousing anti-fascism, are always good to see. Slap-up stickers may be a small platform, but it does show that you are not alone in holding those views. I spotted a tag (and some stickers) by Psalm, reminding me that he has been painting it across Melbourne since the 1990s or maybe longer.

Then there is the aerosol activity of the local WWW crew (aka World’s Worst Writers, also known as the UBM crew of Dsel, Mudl, Smelly, Achy, Luna and Calypso). How bad are they? Enquiring minds will want to know and will be disappointed that they aren’t worse. The worst is as hard to find as the best. People with talent spend years working at being the best in their field while most of us, like the WWW crew, will settle for ordinary and unexceptional most of the time. There are many shout-outs (lots of names around the pieces) on their pieces, reminding me of the social aspect of graffiti writing.

Near Coburg Station, a series of large paste-ups appeared on the piers of the elevated railway with either single words (space, air, time) on them or arty photos. They didn’t last the long Labour Day weekend before most of them were torn down.

A yarn bomber on a fence along the train line proclaims: “I love Coburg”.


Street art notes July 2021

On the eve of Melbourne’s fifth lockdown, I decided that I had better look at some of the best of Melbourne’s street art and graffiti while I still had the chance. So I mask-up, jump on a tram and walk around the city on Thursday afternoon. Now, as I write this I am confined to my house and can only travel 5km around it for exercise, shopping … you know the drill.

A wall in Lovelands

Although I regularly reflect on what has been put up in Hosier Lane, AC/DC Lane, Croft Alley and Presgrave Place, there are many lanes that I haven’t seen in years. It was not just a lockdown that was limiting my chances, whole laneways full of art on the cusp of being demolished, art disappearing into construction projects.

I was photographing work down a familiar lane off Franklin Street, near the Queen Victoria Market and the Mercat. I have fond memories of both meals and gigs at the Mercat, which closed in January 2017. Now a massive multi-storey construction looms over it all.

A builder wearing fluro noticed my interest: “There is even better stuff further down,” he informs me. I knew that there was. The building site hadn’t swallowed up the network of lanes known as Lovelands, but it looked like it soon would.

Blender Alley is now one of the entrances to the massive construction site. Although Blender Studios have moved to a new location there is still some historic stencil art from HaHa and Psalm and quality new work on its walls. 

People always wondered how long street art and graffiti was all going to last. I remember Ghost Patrol saying that it was over in 2008. They should have been concerned not that it was a fad or how long the pigments in the paint will last but how fast the walls in the city are rebuilt. Melbourne’s street art fame has as much to do with the design of the city and these service lanes as the artistic talent.

I will pause for some lunch before examining some of the deeply held assumptions about art and the influence of the philosopher and historian David Hume. Hume came up with the idea of fads and fashions when he started to record English social history after the English Civil War. Now I’m more inclined to believe in structural influences, even the built environment, rather than the whim of a population.

However, walking around the city on Thursday afternoon I just feel negligent that I haven’t seen these years. I walk these laneways in search of the latest instantiation of the zeitgeist. There are hundreds of these service lanes, and the latest, freshest work could be hiding up any one of them. Jazzy capping Ash Keating in Chinatown, Sunfigo keeping social media real, more black and white stencil pieces by Night Krawler, paste-ups by Suki, Phoenix, and collaborative pieces by Manda Lane and Viki Murray (read my earlier post on Murray’s skateboard riders).


Artists who blog

A lot of artists write blogs. I even found a blog about artist’s blogs with interviews of artists about their blogging by an artist, Stephanie Levy. Artists Who Blog. Most of the artists are just photographing of their current art and posting that in a blog. I wish that more artist bloggers, especially the painters, would show something of their process and inspiration rather than simply spruiking their completed paintings for sale or advertising their next exhibition.

The Internet has exposed many crypto-artists, the secret artists, the part-time artists, and the artists who are outside of the art world circle. There are many blogs about the arts and crafts (see my post Contemporary Craft Politics & Blogs) and many more blogs about Melbourne’s street art (see my post Melbourne Street Art Blogs).

I’m surprised that zines have survived given the number of artists who are turning to blogs as their preferred media of publication but there will always be an appeal for the hand-made. Sticky Projects, in the Degreaves St. underpass at Flinders St. Station, is full of zines. I’m surprised at any print media surviving economically; the age of art magazines, like Art + Text, as a significant force in art is over.

Well this is a slack blog entry – I could be writing about who would win a death match cage fight (Jeff Koons vs Jackson Pollock) but instead I’m going to present a list of artist’s blogs. A decade ago I used to do these lists of websites for LookSmart, an international internet directory that no longer exists; so writing this entry feels a bit like my old job. I’m going to have a sandwich.

Blogos/HA HA by artist Peter Tyndall part of his meta-art work “A person Looks At A Work Of Art/ someone looks at something. Articles about recent issues and events in the arts along with notes and observations.

Self vs Selfby Sydney artist Hazel Dooney. Hazel writes regularly about her art, the process of making her art and her life.

Psalm, by the veteren Melbourne street artist of the same name. Psalm writes about street art and urban exploration and his blog features lots of photographs of derelict buildings.

Paul J. Kalemba describes himself as “an urban edible®evolutionary” and has regularly exhibited in Platform’s “Underground Garden”.

Hidden Archive by Melbourne artist Dylan Martorell, documentes his exhibitions and sound/music performances.

Earth Died Screaming by Ryan an illustrator living in Collingwood. Ryan writes about his art (showing working in progress), his inspiration and other things happening in Melbourne’s illustration scene.

Supermarketmonkey by a part-time street artist and illustrator. He has mentioned me several times in his blog and consistently sends me traffic, so I should return the favour. Supermarketmonkey writes about life and other art and the process of making art.

This Painting Life by South Australian artist Dianne Gall, writes about her art, thoughts and inspirations.

Six Hundred Degrees – Sophie Milne, ceramic artist who writes about her art practice and other ceramic and art related events. Sophie Milne used to run Pan Gallery in Brunswick.

Erin Crouch, a young Melbourne artist showing her video work and paintings on her blog. (Now by invitation only.)


Exploring Brunswick

I have been bicycle riding around Brunswick with Spencer (Spud Rokk), exploring the back alleys, keeping our eyes open, eating apples from a branch over hanging a lane and just looking around. Know your neighbourhood. We looked at a lot of street art; there are some great large paste-ups on the streets and lanes of Brunswick. Other aspects of street art, like paste-ups and yarn bombing, have overtaken the era of the stencil graffiti. There is still plenty of old school aerosol art going on in Brunswick.

Looking at street art is about urban exploring as much as it is about admiring the art, taking control of the urban environment by knowing the geography. Others take urban exploration further, like the Cave Clan and Psalm, the veteran Melbourne street artist. Psalm writes in his blog about street art and urban exploration and his blog features lots of photographs of derelict buildings.

Along the ride Spencer was distributing his CD with dead drop distribution; placing the sticky backed package with the CD in various locations around the street. He reaches up as high as he can to place them on the back of signs. The CDs has music from Spencer’s hip-hop band, the Po Movement (technically I am a member of this band because I have done a couple of synth tracks for them – not featured on the current CD).

I thought that dead drops were only for spies but there are others distributing material this way. Dead drops embed USB drives in walls around the world for anonymous peer-to-peer file sharing. According to the Dead Drops website there is meant to be a dead drop Dorset Rd. Boronia near the long wall. Older and on a larger level Book Crossing leaves books around for people to find in an international literary scavenger hunt. All these dead drops are a form of anonymous peer-to-peer sharing.

Street art is getting stranger, the perimeter of street art is getting broader, a wider circle of possible activity. In the theoretical centre of this model are the hardcore and the old school street artists. The extreme perimeter is undefined chaotic edge, a liminal zone, and a place where strange attractors have as much likelihood as the distant core.


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