Tag Archives: street sculpture

Street art 2019

Walking around my neighbourhood, Coburg, one of Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs, I am seeing all these augmented street signs. I’ve seen the NO STANDING “but squatting…” text in several places around Coburg and Brunswick. Is this a trend or is it the same prolific person?

Thinking that street art was much the same this year as previous years; same artists, same locations, same styles. Although a well executed graffiti piece or a good stencil will still interest me I am not enough of a fan boy to want to rush to photograph a fresh wall.

I certainly haven’t written as many blog posts about street art this year. This is because what I want is something new to write about, a new style, a new technique; but that’s just what I want, what people want from Stormie Mills or Adnate is more of the same. I did get to see some new styles this year. The super-flat work of Seam and Rashe and the Indigenous inspired graff of LSDesigns.

What will still make me turn my head on the street is a collection of stickers; even though you can’t tell from many stickers if it is a street artist, graffiti artist (although the handwritten tag on the “hello my name is” sticker is one sign), a band (post-punk group Pinch Points have a very interesting choice of sticker location around Coburg) or advertising a dog walking business. Maybe this variety of purposes is one reason that I keep looking.

I am interested in more than wall; the street is the paradigm of communication and variety. Street art of all sizes from the murals the size of a five story wall to the smallest sticker. The stuff scratched on the concrete footpaths to the aerosol art.

Walking around my neighbourhood I am pleased to see a couple of pieces by Discarded amongst some guerrilla gardening. Discarded makes figures assembled from ceramic casts of discarded rubbish. I don’t know if these are new or if they have been there for years and I have just found them. Perhaps it is the process of discovery that interests me more than the art itself? Perhaps it is the walk rather than the destination.


Street Art Sculpture III

I love street art sculpture; this is my third post about it (see Street Art Sculpture and More Street Art Sculpture). Not all of the street sculptures that I’ve written about are still there; some have weathered well, some have been painted over and others have been removed. Such is the nature of all street art. But there are some new ones around, especially the rainbows by GT who saved the best one for Hosier Lane.

 

GT spectrum sculpture, 2012, Hosier Lane

This is an amazing time in the history of Melbourne’s sculpture. 40 years ago the old sculpture that Melbourne would accept were figures of people or horses made of bronze or stone and placed in a park or out the front of a prominent building. Now there is the joy of discovering a Will Cole cast squashed can or a Junky Projects hidden in the streets. It is another reason not to sleep walk through the city but to explore it.

Will Coles, can, 2011, Corner Elizabeth & Burke

Junky Projects, 2012, Brunswick

Van Rudd, Protest Sign, 2010, Collingwood

unknown, pig face, 2011, Hosier Lane

Malfunction, Leopards, 2011, Brunswick

It is hard to find space for a sculpture in the narrow laneways and crowded streets of Melbourne so some of the best current artists work on a small scale. Not everyone can pull off something as large as Crateman collective or CDH’s Atlas intervention. But more of Melbourne’s street artists like Be Free and Phoenix are thinking in 3 dimensions. Not that all street art sculpture will be successful, some of it just make me cringe.

unknown, kangola australiana, Flannigan Lane, 2011

If anyone with more information about any of the pieces or any other street art sculpture please leave your thoughts.


Award winning junk

Daniel Lynch won the best sculpture award at the 2010 Australian Wood Design Exhibition in Orbost. Most of the awards in the Wood Design exhibition are for furniture, musical instruments and carving. The sculpture award is only $500 but it is good to see Daniel Lynch gaining further recognition, as he is a remarkable sculptor.

Junky Projects at Sweet Streets 2010

Daniel Lynch’s sculptures are made from recycled materials, wood, tin cans, bottle caps and other junk. These simple materials are nailed together to make anthropomorphic sculptures of little junk people. Lynch’s sculptures are the descendents of the assemblages of Marcel Janco, Kurt Schwitters and Max Ernst that have grown up on the streets of Melbourne. For Daniel Lynch is the street artist, also known as, Junky Projects. Turning junk into sculpture is a neat trick that many artists have accomplished; Daniel Lynch goes one step further in returning this junk as sculptures back to the streets, completing the recycle. There are many more entries about his sculpture in this blog – try using “junky” as a search term in the search box on this blog.

I wasn’t in Orbost to see the exhibition but I did read about it in the Moreland Leader (17/1/2011 p.3). The Moreland Leader does a good job covering the local arts scene (although they did misspell Daniel’s name). There are always several stories about the arts in every issue of the Moreland Leader. If only the reporters would occasionally report on the arts rather than just promote the arts.

Junky Projects in Brunswick

Junky Projects in the city


Urban Intervention @ YSG

Urban Intervention: a street sculpture exhibition and art trail opened on Friday night at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery, part of the Sweet Streets festival. (I must declare that I am the festival’s secretary, a volunteer position but it does give me a bias in my reports.)

Opening "Urban Intervention" @ Yarra Sculpture Gallery

People don’t often ask what is the future of street art? Very few people are asking this question because street art is ephemeral and it is perceived as fashionable fad (although the fad has lasted some 30+ years). The whig history of art dismisses street art as a fad because it doesn’t fit with art history’s idea of progress. But there is a lot of progress in street art scene: street sculpture and yarn bombing.  There are other aspects that are not easily packaged like culture jamming and site specific installations.

There are a lot of impressive elements to this exhibition; a whole painted ute was parked in the gallery, a shopping cart covered in knitting and an installation of light, smells and sounds. There was street sculpture from Mic Porter, Nick Ilton, Will Coles and Junky Projects. The Melbourne Light Painters exhibited photographs and the objects that emit light (sparklers, toys swords and other things). Van Rudd exhibited a work protesting Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Phonenix brings Banksy’s “The Little Diver” from Cocker Alley in Melbourne back from its destruction with a paste-up that was recreated and documented in the exhibition.

Nick Ilton's "Suggestion Box" and suggestions

Importantly for a street art exhibition the exhibition is not limited to the gallery there is an associated art trail where the artists from the exhibition have work in context with an online collaborative map. I haven’t walked the trail yet but I have looked at it online – the detail in this Google map is fantastic. It is important for this to exist in both the virtual and actual versions because so much of street art scene exists online, as well as, the streets.

I was disappointed that there wasn’t any guerrilla gardening in the exhibition, maybe I will find some on the art trail. I must do that when the weather improves.

Curated by Anna Briers and Kelly Madigan this is an important exhibition about under-represented trends in street art: “site specific installation, culture jamming, underground light painting, yarn bombing…” It also sets new benchmarks in quality in exhibiting street art.


Street Art Sculpture

Street sculpture, or 3D graffiti, is the most difficult of all the street art mediums but when done well is also one of the most popular street art form. The Crate-man Collective of Melbourne is very popular with the general public who see the men made of plastic milk crates from train windows. The public does not associates street sculpture with vandalism and admire their creativity, especially the creative use of rubbish.

To create a sculpture that can withstand the outdoor environment is difficult enough but then add the usual problems for street artists. And what distinguishes street art sculpture from public sculpture is that street sculptures are unofficial.

Junky Projects in Fitzroy

Junky Projects in Fitzroy

I met the guy who does Junky Projects at the BBQ for the MSF and we have been exchanging a few emails since. I had seen his Junky Projects on the street, creations of junk with a “junky projects” stencil sprayed on them attached to poles. I asked him why he got into doing street sculpture? He replied by email:

“I guess I started because I was looking for a new medium to engage the public with my street art. Too many people just pick up a scalpel and a cheap can of paint and decided that they are a street artist. I have been a graffiti artist for over ten years and I have played around with all types, pieces, tags, stencils, paste-ups, and stickers. The thing is it’s all too tired for me. Sometimes I see things on the streets that inspire me or keep me interested, but mostly there is a lot of rehashing old ideas. The junkyprojects was something I knew nobody had ever done before. I get a huge rush from it, more than I ever got from bombing tags or other types of graff. Plus it engages all types of people; they all get something out of my work.”

Mal Function in Brunswick

Mal Function in Brunswick

Another of Melbourne’s street sculptors is ‘Mal Function‘ who does little gremlin faces that he attaches to walls and poles in the street. These gremlins in the system bring folk myths into the city and remind us of the malfunctions of the urban environment. ‘Will Coles’ is a sculptor from Sydney who has exhibited in galleries and Bondi’s but he also has some street sculpture in Hosier lane. Will Cole created concrete remote controls and televisions that he glues in the street. And including, street fabric art in this short survey, there is also the Melbourne Revolutionary Craft Circle (see: Radical Cross Stitch, “seriously seditious stitching”) who used cross stitching on the chain-link fence around vacant land in Footscray to create the slogan: “I wanna live here”.

Anon street sculpture in Hosier Lane, Melbourne

Anon street sculpture in Melbourne

Most street sculpture is still rather flat, low relief sculptures, objects glued to walls, like the ubiquitous ‘space invader’ mosaic creations. Or high-top runners hanging from an overhead wire, the street art equivalent of tagging. However, this is just the beginning street sculpture is a growing trend and there are going to be better works, like Junky Projects, coming to a street near you.

(Thanks you Junky Projects for your help with this article.)


Kempken & Shiels @ Famous When Dead

Ralf Kempken‘s  current exhibition Now Screening is at Famous When Dead. In this exhibition Kempken’s explores the eye, cinema images and perception with his amazing hand-cut paper and canvases. By removing thin slices of canvas he can create whole images from subtle variations in the width of the slice. Up close you can see only ribbons of stretched canvas but stand on the other of the gallery and the images are revealed.

There are lots of images of eyes in this exhibition because, as Ralf Kempken explains in his artist statement, this is “an exploration of the process of perception…that all incoming sense perceptions are filtered or screened according to our own individual life experiences.” The cunning play between the screening of perceptions, the cinema screen and Kempken’s canvas screens of vertical stripes further adds to their meaning.

This play on the visual screen allows Kempken to do a little bit more than the usual Pop Art appropriation and translation images into another media. There are many images from the cinema: from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Dziga Vertov’s Man with Movie Camera, Luis Bruuel’s The Andalusian Dog along with images of Marylin Monroe and Andy Warhol. A long dissolve from Man with a Movie Camera featuring both the cameraman and the audience forms the image for the largest work in the exhibition. This double image is a display of Kempken’s mastery of his technique.

This is not the first time that I’ve seen Ralf Kempken’s amazing spaghetti stencil technique, it has been shown before at Famous When Dead and at last year’s Melbourne Stencil Festival. For the last two years he has been refining this approach to stenciling and in this latest exhibition he continues to develop his technique. He has moved away from the all black canvas, there are also red and rusted iron finishes to some of his canvases. He has also created double screens with intense optical color effects from the diffusion effects.

There are more works by Ralf Kempken currently in a group exhibition: I’m Here: Stencil + Street Inspired Art at Ochre Gallery in Collingwood. This exhibition has more of Kempken’s spaghetti stencil work along with a few of his earlier aerosol stencil paintings of modern Melbourne buildings.

Also at Famous When Dead, in the small backroom gallery, is an exhibition of photographs by Julie Shiels “Writing in the street”. Street art is an ephemeral art form and by documenting her ephemeral street sculpture pieces with photographs has created something that can be hung in a gallery and enjoyed at home. Using abandoned furniture and cardboard boxes found on the street with the addition of spray painted slogans. The slogans: “I’d rather be somewhere else”, “The last thing”, “All that remains” and “Will you catch me when I fall?” are similar to those of Barbara Kruger or Jenny Holzer with their provocative, truthful, statements to the reader. Julie Shiels in this series of photographs has given a melancholy voice to the detritus of a culture that has been abandoned on the street.


Hosier Lane & Centre Place

Two years ago the two most dynamic places for street art in Melbourne’s CBD were Hosier Lane and the alley off Centre Place. Both of these are locations for Andy Mac’s City Lights project. City Lights are light-boxes with art rather than advertising in them that started in 1996. Things have changed.
Last year there was construction in the alley off Centre Place and a new entrance was added to the adjacent office building. The renovations have halved the number of City Light light-boxes from 4 to 2. Now there are more people than ever using the alley for cigarette breaks and less street art. There are lots of advertising posters and taggers, repeating their viral message ad infinitum. I see the “Again” paste-up again, an ironic comment on repeated messages.
There is a new aerosol painting of a wizard are still a few stencils and paste-ups surviving amidst the chaos of tags and cigarette butts in Centre Place. There was also a work of street sculpture, a small, locked wooden box attached to a brass plate that was securely bolted to the wall. The box has a painted red heart, metal fittings and “KDG -Everything for love” on an engraved brass plate.
Hosier Lane is still attractive looking attractive and has new, large, fresh works by the Everfresh crew, the Lads and Ghostpatrol in collaboration with Renka. Older quality works are respected until someone can put something better up; HaHa’s series of stencil portraits of Melbourne gangsters are appropriately placed behind bars years later. The word “Material” with letters made from different fabrics is still hanging high up.
Tourists slowly wander up Hosier Lane taking photographs with an average dwell time of 10-15 minutes. The tourists in Hosier Lane have that slow art gallery walk, looking around them in wonder before focusing their digital camera on some more street art.

Major factors in the decline in the street art around Centre Place have been the lack of interest from the businesses, the new building entrance, combined with the fame of the location. This has also been the case with last years the street art project along Union Lane off the Burke St. mall – it has also been covered in tags. Hosier Lane remains fresh and different because of the continued interest and involvement of its businesses and residents.

Tourists in Hosier Lane January 2009

Tourists in Hosier Lane January 2009


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