She was sitting on a bluestone step near the corner of Rutledge Lane, just past the paint splattered wheelie bins. A waif of a girl, pallid and twig like, she looked like a Manga character, except her eyes were too small and demeanor too fragile. She was wearing a pastel coloured checked shirt over faded denim jeans, her long hair bleached white with pale blue dip- dyed ends. She was rolling a cigarette slowly and self- consciously, not street wise enough to adopt the insouciance of more experienced street artists. She didn’t appear to be homeless, there was something too studied about her appearance for that. Perhaps she came to admire her own art, or to contemplate her next one, or to rue the loss of her favourite piece.
Street art in Hosier Lane and its right-angled annex, Rutledge Lane, is transient. Each visit brings new surprises, new styles, as the genre mutates and evolves. Recent additions include more stencil art and written messages, some with environmental and political content, others with random thoughts.
Melbourne’s secret lanes, inner suburban streets, Victorian historic precincts and 19th century abandoned factories and warehouses have turned from grunge to gentry. Colourful street art provides a changing landscape; painted facades give life to the severe modern apartment blocks tucked behind. Good graffiti is embraced. Railway bike paths open up a whole new world to the backstreet artist and walker.
The best way to enjoy Melbourne is to wander. The tram network services all inner suburban areas. Leave the car at home, take the tram then stroll. These images were taken recently along Rose Street, Fitzroy, close to the city. Catch the tram along Nicholson street and disembark at Rose Street. Start walking, and do not get distracted at the Brunswick Street intersection.
The following collage can be viewed as a media file. Open one picture below and the journey down Rose street will follow.
I have always longed to return to Valparáiso, Chile, South America just to see the how the colours have changed and to see if the artwork is renewed on the walls. The streets of Valparáiso provide a canvas for all sorts of artists as well as home painters, who prefer to use bright colours for external walls. I imagine the walls are always in transition. Steep streets rise up above the busy port, the hilly suburbs accessed via ancient, vertical tram cars or ascensori, which take you from one level to the next. If you walk, goat like, to the upper reaches, you will be rewarded with more colourful views.
Mischievous, the travel theme chosen by Ailsa this week, brings to mind all things playful, destructive, artful, roguish and frolicsome. The graffiti lanes of Melbourne provide artistic examples of mischievous work. Melbourne City Council supports this work, particularly in the lanes, but not on grander edifices. Street art is now desirable in many inner suburbs. Some of the best art can be seen along the bike track parallel to the Upfield Railway line in Brunswick. Businesses, private home and apartment owners commission the best graffiti artists to decorate their plain walls.
A tour of the Melbourne Graffiti lanes wouldn’t be so much fun without the company and energy of a couple of mischievous boys.