Ok, so I am pretty damn excited to share this event with you.
For the last 6 months or so Dean Sunshine from Land of Sunshine, Fletcher Anderson (aka Facter) from Invurt (who I also write for), Toby from Just Another and I ( Chairperson of Hosier Inc) have been working together on this exciting project. ALL YOUR WALLS is a satellite event for the National Gallery of Victoria‘s Melbourne Now event, a 3 month programme of work celebrating Melbourne art. It is the gallery’s largest ever exhibition, so the association with the event is very special indeed. The NGV have always been big supporters of street art and graffiti as I’ve mentioned in the past.
The project commenced many months ago when Dean was approached by the NGV and told about the upcoming Melbourne Now exhibition and asked how best to represent this fundamental part of art in Melbourne. Dean then approached us and we all came up with ALL YOUR WALLS. Thanks to Dean for the opportunity to be involved in this amazing project.
So what’s the project all about?
Over 6 days in November more than 100 of Melbourne’s best artists and writers (incl. 11 crews) will repaint (sculpt/paste/stencil/etc) the entire Hosier and Rutledge lane precinct. Artists are painting high and low, so we’ll be covering parts of walls that have never before seen paint. The project’s intention is to celebrate the significant role that street art and graffiti continues to play in the cultural life of Melbourne. ALL YOUR WALLS is a great representation of the diverse range of artists and styles on the streets of our city.
The event is being held over 2 sessions. The 1st session (last weekend) was for the high walls, and the 2nd (27-29 November) for the ground level walls. We will then launch the event with an opening party on the 29th from 6-9pm.
Hosier Inc is a not for profit, community based association made up of residents, business owners, artists and anyone that loves Hosier and Rutledge lanes. Street art and graffiti are obviously topics of interest but the Inc also focuses on issues such as public safety and upkeep of the lanes amongst other things. Hosier Inc has been undoubtedly been instrumental in the concept behind the project; access to untouched walls is a result of the relationship we have forged with residents and users of the space.
I recently described the lanes in detail after Rutledge lane was painted blue; for anyone that didn’t read that – in summary Hosier lane (and the lesser known Rutledge lane) is Melbourne’s most iconic street art and graffiti location, without a doubt. (Whether or not it was the best spot is debatable, it is certainly the most well known). Continue reading “ALL YOUR WALLS :: Hosier Lane :: Melbourne”
A couple of weekends ago on Sunday the 25th of August, I started walking down Hosier Lane, which I do at least 5 times a week, but this time I noticed something very strange. Rutledge Lane (located parallel to Hosier Lane – one of Melbourne’s most well known street art and graffiti locations) was completely fenced off and there were trucks and equipment. When I made it down to the other end, an even more surprising site met me.
It was Adrian Doyle (who I’ll tell you a bit more about later) in a full white body suit, spray gun in hand, starting to paint Rutledge Lane completely BLUE. An eery light blue glow came all the way to the edge of the lane with a distinct sharp blue line all the way to the edge of Hosier. What followed has been the talk of the Melbourne street art and graffiti community, and whilst it has calmed down now, or has even been forgotten, it definitely created quite a stir.
The ‘installation/artwork/buff?’ was not only the talk of the local street art and graffiti community, it also attracted much media attention on radio, TV and in newspapers due to the infamous nature of the lane way.
Adrian continued down the entire laneway and proceeded to buff everything in sight, and I mean everything, every bin, every spec of rubbish laying around, everything. Top to bottom, even the road. Scissor lifts and spray guns were his tools of choice to get as much paint up as high as he could.
Later that day Invurt posted an article on the project, which contained Doyle’s explanation behind the project, taken from his Facebook page:
Today piece was not a buff….. it was a burner.. Hell yeaH…
Houses are a major influence on my aesthetics and imagery. Most of the important events in my early life were focused around our quarter acre block in the heart of suburbia. We had an outback toilet, complete with its own dunny man that came every week to change the bucket. We went through numerous above ground pools and sadly, many pets. My house was not really different than any other suburban house. Yet it was my world for many years, a curated world, in which I learnt social skills and perceived normality from my parents.
I watched from a very young age as my parents struggled with house payments and debt collectors. They worked so hard to pay the bills and bring up 5 kids. They worked in jobs they hated with little respect from their bosses. They married in their teens, and did all the expected norms and learnt behaviour passed down from their parents. The house was a symbol of their hard work.
This experience made me reflect on my childhood home, and the hold it had over me, my family and my art. When my parents eventually lost the house to the bank, my parents moved four hours away to a small cottage in East Gippsland. But the grief and pain followed them. I began to play with the idea of creating a colour that represents my childhood and my suburban experiences. Was it possible to create a colour that could capture that kind of experience?
So I decided to come up with my own colour. I named it: Empty-Nursery Blue
The way I decided to create Empty-Nursery Blue was by sitting in the studio and creating hundreds of different blues until I found the one that expressed my experiences the most. It was a baby blue that had hints of mauve in it. It’s a beautiful colour, a bright pastel. This colour expresses the feeling that something has been disturbed. All is not quite right. I took my disturbing yet beautiful colour to a paint lab and worked out its recipe.
But what good was Empty-Nursery Blue, if it was without a context. I needed to find something to paint to physicalise the concept of the colour.
As mentioned above, after losing their house, my parents moved to an island in the Gippsland Lakes. It’s a significant removal from the realities of suburban Frankston. Their house is alone in the landscape, only bushes and trees to keep it company. Not even a bridge links the island to the nearest shop. This physical removal from the past does not automatically come with emotional removal.
This is why I decided to paint my parents’ new house Empty-Nursery Blue.
Empty-Nursery Blue once placed in context became a symbol of a collective past. Surrounding the new house with the memory and emotions of an experience that ruptured my family’s suburban dream.
In recent years I have spent much of my time lost deep in the Melbourne Street Art world. Street art has become a major part of my life and the lane-ways have become my world. I have lived and breathed art all my life. My art, however, is conceived of and formed from my past experiences. I cannot exist today without recognizing my roots in the past.
Thus, I would like to incorporate my past and my present in a Street Art piece using the colour Empty-Nursery Blue, and only this colour. By using Empty-Nursery Blue to cover Hosier Lane, I am symbolically ‘coating’ my present with my past, it is reminder to me and anyone who is living, that you are a product of your former experiences, and you should be reminded of them as you work your way through your present and into your future. By doing this, I am claiming that a colour in its pure form can be street art or graffiti. This is a great conceptual link from fine art to street art, a link that is often lacking in the Melbourne Street Art scene. By bridging this gap, I hope to expose more people not only to Street Art, but also to the importance of art in general.
Doyle explains that his piece reflects the experiences of his childhood and his relationship with the suburban house, in particular the negative impact of his parents losing the house to the bank when he was young. “We’re all victims of suburbia” he said on a radio interview on 774. This all inspired him to create the “Empty Nursery Blue” colour.
Doyle claims the piece wasn’t a buff, but by nature it can’t really be called anything else. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an interesting piece of art, although some argue it is not art, at all.
Doyle is no stranger to street art in Melbourne. He runs Blender Studios; Open since the birth of the circa 2000 street art explosion in Melbourne and home to so many of Melbourne’s best past and present street, contemporary and fine artists. Doyle also helps run the Signal Arts mentoring program which provides young kids paint and the opportunity to learn from some of Melbourne’s best street art and graffiti artists. He is a well known character in the closely connected Melbourne scene.
Does his intimate relationship with street art give him the right to paint an entire lane way blue though?
For readers not familiar with them, let me tell you a little about Hosier and Rutledge Lanes. Hosier Lane is Melbourne’s most renowned street art location by far – I say renowned, not best; because there are MUCH better places for street art and graffiti in Melbourne. Just open any Lonely Planet or travel book about Melbourne and you’ll see that it is considered as a must see tourist attraction. On any given day of the week, hundreds and hundreds of people (from all walks of life, ages and parts of the world) visit Hosier and Rutledge Lanes to see what amazing artwork has been left for them to admire. The lanes are also one of the most popular places in the city for wedding photographs, which I personally think is extremely tacky, each to their own through.
Hosier and Rutledge Lanes are close to the middle of Melbourne (off to the side a little) and are apparently a legal painting precinct, which means anyone can paint there, any time.
For many years the laneways were cared for and curated by a guy called Andy Mac, who used to run Until Never Gallery on the corner of Hosier and Rutledge Lanes. This kept the level of quality artwork fresh and relevant and to some extent meant that the lanes had a caretaker of sorts.
Since Andy left, Rutledge Lane in particular has gone downhill in terms of quality and in terms of respect shown to the work, unlike most other places people paint in Melbourne. I mentioned my disappointment in my July article at a piece by German artist MSYK getting capped almost immediately after being painted (at the time it was by far the best piece in the lane). This is what Rutledge Lane is like now.
More recently in particular Rutledge Lane has gained a reputation as a “practice spot”. This reputation definitely doesn’t do any favours for the longevity of pieces painted there or to encourage respect, an unspoken rule in most other places you find graffiti and to some extent street art. “Don’t cap what you can’t burn” is not a saying that generally holds true in Rutledge Lane.
All of that said, while the lane was a little out of control, the layer upon layer of paint and tags and sculptures, was a spectacle in itself. There really wasn’t many (so publicly accessible) places quite like it in Melbourne. It even caught the eye of Futura when he was last in Melbourne. From my interview with him: “Well that’s the fucking craziest street in the world, I mean, that one back alley, it’s like DONE. Jesus it’s impressive. Fuck, I mean, you gotta see it to believe it. I don’t care where you go, you know, Germany, Italy, France no no no, it doesn’t exist. Plus your architecture.. the lanes, just the set up.” Not everyone will agree with this opinion, but it was a pretty special place in hindsight.
Walking through the lane after Doyle had finished, was a pretty surreal experience, love or hate the project. The fact that every single surface was well and truly covered in bright blue buff and it was quite unique. The lane stayed fenced off for 45 minutes before it was opened back up to the public, and once the fences removed it didn’t’ take long for the cans to come out and some awesomeburners to grace the new blue walls. (“Thanks for the Blue” – someone wrote). Sadly these pieces were capped with shit soon after. (Check out #RutledgeLane on Instagram or Flickr to see lots more shots, it changes daily).
What was I expecting though? One criticism of the project relating to this point, would be the lack of community consultation and engagement. Could this have had a different outcome if let’s say all the artists and writers were a) across the project, b) endorsed it, and c) aware of it happening? What if it had been discussed and debated? What if the majority of artists did support it, and organised to meet in the lane once it had been reopened, and repainted the new blank canvas? Would that have changed things? Could it have been one almighty refresh of Rutledge Lane?
Watching the event in time lapse is also fascinating. Personally I would still be filming the experiment, to see how long it takes for all the blue to disappear. I think this was also a bit of a missed opportunity; how fascinating would it be to watch it over 6 months or a year?
Another disappointment from my perspective was the lack of intelligent discussion this project generated. Not because it didn’t have potential to do so, but because most people are idiots. I found the reactions to this fascinating.
The majority of the reactions on Facebook and Blogs was just mindless insults and abuse. Some interesting (and ill informed) rumours too: “It’s for a new commercial,” “It’s the cops, they’ve baited the lane and they’re filming to catch people,” “It’s illegal to paint there now.” There were a few sensible and intelligent comments though. Along the lines of “It’s a fresh canvas”, “Nothing is permanent” or “Go down and paint your best stuff and stop complaining”.
Others complained that he destroyed a iconic place with some classic pieces. As Doyle says “the lane was trashed” there were no really significant pieces there except for maybe 2 or 3; as Acclaim Magazine rightly noted “in my opinion, it is a shame to see those Mic and Tekno rollers disappear” (those pieces were only still left intact because they were up so high). The rest of the lane way was a mess. And, it will be back before people realise, I bet.
I think one of the things that pissed many people off was the fact the project was endorsed and facilitated by RMIT University (a large institution) and (as it turned out) the City of Melbourne. Two of the least relevant authorities on street art. It was also interesting timing given the Lord Mayor had said he was “worried about the quality of the street art” in the Herald Sun only a week earlier.
Was it a kick up the arse the lane and the scene sorely needed? Was it a challenge to the community? Why has this lane become a “practice lane”? Is this what the painters of Melbourne want people to see when they visit “the most iconic street art and graffiti location in Melbourne”? (According to the public/tourists anyway). Or was the lane perfect, just the way it was?
I still don’t know exactly what I think about this very unique project. I can see so many good things about it, but I also understand many people’s negative opinions. For me the negatives were only in the execution, maybe missing out on some potential opportunities to make this project even more effective.
Anyway, it’s over now. I am looking forward to watching the evolution of the new Rutledge lane. I wonder how long, if ever, it will take for every drop of blue to be covered.
I’d be interested to hear what you think in the comments section below.
Damn. It’s almost May! Sorry this is so late but it’s worth the wait. March was another action packed month in Melbourne.
Starting off with Baby Guerrilla‘s show in Footscray. Baby Guerrilla’s paste ups have been adorning Melbourne’s walls for a few years now, and they are some of my favourites, her gallery work was new for me and I loved seeing a different side of the artist.
Adnate was 1 of 3 Melbourne graffiti/street artists that entered the renowned Archibald prize. From the Archibald website “The Archibald Prize is awarded annually to the best portrait, ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’.” It’s great to see some more modern painting techniques making it into this more conventional competition. Adnate painted a portrait of Samantha Harris; an Australian indigenous model. Also make sure you check out the video by Michael Danischewski below.
Pinched this post from Invurt, an absolute MUST see documentary on Melbourne’s graffiti and street art culture. From our awesome train graffiti to street art and gallery art; this documentary gives a great insight into the city I love and the amazing graffiti and street art that I’ve loved since I 1st got on a train as a kid. The movie features friends, favourite artists and familiar places so that makes it even more special.
From Invurt: “Created by Alex MacBeth and Miriam Hison, the documentary ‘Charts the development of the Melbourne street art scene,’ Children of the Iron Snake looks at the last thirty years and tracks the journey of graffiti from railway junctions at night to festivals, abandoned factories, rooftops, drains and galleries. Comprising interviews with over 15 artists, as well as criminologists, anti-graffiti activists, and politicians, the film offers a in-depth look at one of the biggest art movements of our time.”
Check out the preview below.
The FULL film is available online here. Make sure you check it out.
Adnate‘s work is some of my absolute favourite in Melbourne right now and has been for a while. He has been hitting the streets hard lately, both solo and in multiple collaborations with AWOL Crew and others. Adnate started out painting graffiti and letters over 10 years ago. More recently he has moved into painting beautifully detailed characters, which also still incorporate some of his tags and lettering, which I love. His characters are not only amazingly detailed, most of them also have a story, which make them even more special. Last year Adnate had his solo show “Lost Culture” at RTIST Gallery and exhibited alongside the rest of the AWOL crew at their collective show “Fabric”. Adnate has also traveled the world painting and exhibiting in cities such as Barcelona, Mumbai, New York, Paris and Berlin.
I sat down with Adnate recently and this is what we talked about.
LM: I mentioned above that many of your characters have a story, which I learned by talking to you at some of your shows and while watching you paint. Tell us about some of them?
Adnate: Most of the subjects in my paintings are of people that I have met and personally photographed. It’s important that I know the subjects as I am always trying to communicate certain emotions and stories through my portraits.
With the aboriginal portraits, which I feel are my strongest, I spent the last years getting to know local and national Indigenous Australians. It has been a crazy journey meeting and learning about these incredible people, particularly the current and past climate of their survival.
LM: Apart from your solo and AWOL group shows, give us a recap of what you got up to in 2012?
Adnate: Last year was the first year that I went bigger and higher with my portraits. It’s a great feeling being elevated that high in the air whilst painting and although I only managed two walls on this scale for 2012 they were definitely a highlight. When painting on the ground you get all sorts of distractions but being up high it’s just you and a few birds (one almost flew into my head recently).
I had some great opportunities to travel around Australia too. I got to travel through the western desert and met some of the oldest indigenous Australians alive. You wouldn’t believe what’s out there, that’s what you call “real country”.
LM: I read in a recent interview on artshub your work is “Inspired by Renaissance artists such as Da Vinci and Caravaggio, Adnate taught himself classical chiaroscuro techniques to communicate drama and emotion in his subjects”. This is quite an evolution from tagging and letters, what brought about this change in style?
Adnate: I worked on making my own style for 10 years and it was time to try something new. So I flipped my work on its head and began trying to reach a level of portrait realism that’s second to a photo. I’ve never been a big sketcher, so when I was painting letters I did so in a free flowing manner from the beginning to the end. Now with portraits I reference a photo, spending just as much time studying the photo as I do the painting. There is always a point in which I battle with the painting and the photo to make things as realistic as possible. It’s a completely different method of painting that I am used to and I think that’s what I love about it. It’s important to stay stimulated and challenge myself wherever possible.
LM: Tell me about some of the other work you do using your art?
Adnate: Over the years I’ve done regular youth work using graffiti art as a way to sway them off drugs and hard crime. I’m currently doing most of this now in a Juvenile Prison that houses the most volatile and “at risk” young boys and girls in the state. It’s an awesome job and the best part is getting to know these guys, they all have the craziest stories to tell and its really rewarding when you get to make their day. Plus there are some really talented writers and artists in there, which is definitely inspiring.
LM: Tell me about your background. How did you get into graff?
Adnate: Well I didn’t grow up on a train line, so my first memories were being a little gromit skater and studying all the designs on the clothes and decks. When I hit high school I begun to travel around Melbourne on the trains, in particular the Hurstbridge Line and I got to see all the WCA productions. This blew my mind and I quickly dropped off from skating and graff became my life.
LM: What does your name mean?
Adnate: ad·nate [ad-neyt] adjective Biology: grown fast to something; congenitally attached.
I get asked this all the time and to be honest I didn’t choose it for the meaning but simply for the letter structure. I was 16 when I choose it from a dictionary and I loved it because it was a word that gave me lots of kicks and flares with my tags.
After meeting and developing a friendship with Roa in San Francisco earlier this year, I’ve been really looking forward to him arriving in Melbourne! I’ve always known Roa loved his animals, but have never appreciated him as much as I do until now.
Roa was invited by Healsville Sanctuary to visit and meet some of their animals and paint some walls. Healsville is a very special place and there is no doubt that experience shaped the entire trip in Melbourne and also heavily influenced the exhibition. There’s nothing like seeing an artist meet an animal, touch it, play with it, and then go off and paint it.
Roa’s inspiration for CARRION, his show that just closed at Backwoods Gallery in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, was a direct result of the visit to Healseville. The animals, the staff and their passion for the animals and having access to things even most Australians have never even experienced really made a difference.
So how did this impact the show? In so many ways! Firstly, all of the works were Australian native animals. But the installation, as Roa’s shows often are, was something else! The experience began even before entering the gallery, with the scent of something strange to come. Roa painted the wall in the alley way leading into Backwoods with a giant wombat skeleton. The strange smell kept luring you closer and closer, I won’t say it was a pleasant smell, far from it – soon you’ll understand why.
Upon entering Backwoods punters were greeted by a green wall with CARRION painted in red. To the right was a shed built inside the gallery, inside were several videos showing a wallaby autopsy (Roa got to watch and film this at the sanctuary). Rather confronting for those not knowing what to expect.
Fish tanks were assembled throughout the gallery with a set of pipes joining them together for air flow. Inside was the cause of the smell, native Australian animals (a possum, a wallaby, an echidna, a kookaburra and several other birds) being slowly consumed by flesh eating beetles! If you were surprised by the autopsy video this was even more of a shock to some. Bones and various other found items were also scattered throughout the gallery.
Roa left Melbourne a couple of days ago. What an amazing month or so it has been. After arriving in Melbourne from Puerto Rico, one of the first things he did was visit Healesville Sanctuary. Healesville Sanctuary is a not-for-profit conservation organisation dedicated to fighting wildlife extinction through breeding and recovery programs for threatened species and by working with visitors and supporters to reduce threats facing endangered wildlife. The Sanctuary is a very important part of Roa’s whole visit to Melbourne, a major part of his show at Backwoods Gallery, Carrion, which I will go into more detail about in my next post.
The first day was all about Roa meeting the animals. He got the royal treatment from the Sanctuary and all the keepers, getting to go behind the scenes and really meet the animals, touch, feel and hold most of them.
The next few days were a combination of painting some of the animals he met, and preparing for the show. He painted three pieces while at the Sanctuary, the most exciting would have to have been the Platypus (Ornithorhynchus Anatinus) on the water tower (featured in the video). I was lucky enough to be there with Roa and experience the breathtaking views, hip hop, pizza and beer. A perfect afternoon 🙂 Continue reading “Roa at Healesville Sanctuary”
Kaff-eine is another of my favourite Melbourne street artists. Since first discovering Kaff’s characters pasted in Melbourne’s alleyways, I quickly fell in love with her work.
Kaff-eine paints using a number of different media, including aerosol, pigment ink, watercolor and acrylic paint. Her characters light up drab grey walls and alleys and bring real character to Melbourne’s streets. Her characters evoke emotion and feeling, in particular the sorrowful character cradling a dying swan is one of my favourite works!
I caught up with Kaff-eine a few weeks ago and had a great chat. Here’s some of what we talked about:
LM: Tell me about your background. How did you get into street art?
Kaff-eine: I’d stopped drawing a decade beforehand. I was at Uni, discovering new street art all around Melbourne as I went to and from Uni, but never thinking about painting myself. Then I met a new bunch of friends who really encouraged me to get back into drawing, and a couple were into street art, so I thought about drawing again, kind of followed my street artist friends around, tried it and loved it. It changed the way I saw urban spaces, and my own artwork. I started pasting my work up, but discovered that I preferred to paint directly onto surfaces. So I’ve been doing it ever since.
LM: What does your name mean?
Kaff-eine: Aw it’s pretty basic. Everyone who knows me knows that caffeine is my drug of choice. So I tweaked the name a bit, and used it. Without caffeine there’s no Kaff-eine! And the hyphen works too, I think in German it translates as something like ‘coffee one’. So yep, that’s suitable too.
A note from RJ: Luke left the show before thisstuffhappened. If anyone knows more about what went on, let us know in the comments.
Lush a renowned “so called” graffiti artist from Melbourne, Australia, opened his show tonight at Klughaus Gallery in NYC.
As usual his work is controversial and rather obscene :)… Lush’s graffiti pieces combine his trademark lettering with often x-rated images of pornography and naked women posing alongside (and incorporated into) his pieces. I really like his work.
His illustrations (the feature of this show) provide a very apt commentary on the graffiti scene and all the associated traditions and beliefs.
Lush wasn’t at the show (maybe because he’s probably a wanted man haha), but, in what I thought was an innovative addition to the show, he appeared live on Skype from Melbourne (donning a bandana to cover his face) from his bathtub. This was an excellent addition to the exhibit as it allowed people at the show to interact with the artist. He was also live in twitter and @lushsux and the #lushsux hash tag were getting lots of attention. Both positive and negative.
The good thing about Lush is that he does not at all take himself seriously and his work completely “takes the piss” (an Australian saying meaning makes fun of) the whole graffiti and street art scene. A much needed viewpoint in my opinion.
The show opened tonight and runs until the 7th of September. Worth having a look at if you are in New York.