AUSTRALIA. Discover Melbourne's street art scene
Melbourne isn't short on artistic cred. Australia's premiere hip city has always had an edge over Sydney when it comes to embracing counter culture. Where Sydney is pristine, Melbourne is gritty (though it's definitely relative) and where Sydney may feel formal and corporate, Melbourne relishes its reputation for being the cooler, younger cousin. And it's the city streets themselves that provide the canvas for all that freedom of expression. From giant murals of naked heads of state to tiny stencils on back alley pavements – it's difficult to find a piece of concrete that doesn't have some sort of artistic merit.
And so while I was in town last week, I decided to take a stroll through Melbourne's laneways and northern suburbs to see what I could find. Here are my best finds.
Naked Donald Trump – Hardware Street (CBD) A huge mural of the pursed lipped, orange hued POTUS looms large at the top end of trendy Hardware street. The famous comb over reaches for the sky and his giant bare shoulders hunch over all the bustling eateries below. Trump is always a fun if somewhat easy target, but it's the nameless guy painted underneath him that was actually more disturbing. A moustachioed creep points his finger directly at you surrounded by crude speech bubbles - the entire wall is a bit of a testament to men we'd rather didn't exist. https://goo.gl/maps/N4FZZXfTQJztW5dL9
Robot Man and more - Rankins Lane & Warburton Lane (CBD) Hidden off bustling Little Bourke street is a treasure trove of eclectic street art. Rankins Lane offers up a huge colourful mural of two alien like creatures coloured blue, pink and green, smiling while clutching their own spray cans and paint brushes. A bit further on I spotted a cool little 3D robot hanging out on a corner wall. Made from geometric squares and random bulbous bits of concrete, it stretches around a corner wall disguised so brilliantly I nearly missed it - this one was a true gem. Further along a couple of beautiful stencilled trees "grew" just above the pavement, while opposite an original hand painted advert advertised an old printing press (now achingly hip coffee shop). Next door on Warburton Lane I found a pig dressed in a dinner jacket, next to a dog and a duck all atop a horse with a violin between its legs. Weird. https://goo.gl/maps/yz18aSLmoM7vPy4V6
Rockers, possums, protest posters and everything else – AC/DC Lane and Hosier Lane (CBD) Both considered the grand-daddy of street art in Melbourne, these two lanes are where it all began - apparently. AC/DC lane is, as the name implies, dedicated to that most famous of Aussie rock gods. There are some great spray painted murals of the late Malcolm Young and a host of other rockers too. But my favourites here were a 3D poster of a Darth Vader mask made of chocolate hands and fingers, and a red horned half bear half tank creature looking furious. A bit further along things calm down with a beautiful sky high mural of a man carrying a giant tree, sitting between high walled buildings on either side. Hosier Lane just around the corner is a dense smorgasbord of everything from possum paintings to protest posters, old blues music heroes and, my personal favourite, a lion with “fuck yah mum” emblazoned across his face. Fierce.
The Dalai Lama and a giant praying mantis- Argyle Street & Victoria Street (Fitzroy) The northern suburbs have their own street art scene going on, especially around Brunswick Street which was once a gritty hub of inner city drug problems and violence, but now fully gentrified with cool folk a plenty. In between shopping at brilliant vintage clothes store I spotted an excellent mural of the Dalai Lama at the top end of Argyle Street just before it hits Brunswick. His bespectacled face glances down at the street below, halo-ed in red and yellow and serene as ever. A little further south a huge praying mantis covers an entire house wall on Victoria Street – a brilliant quirky depiction of an alien looking insect ready to pounce on all those hipsters. https://goo.gl/maps/QPfSk8EXSTS9e1pe7
Melbourne is in a class of its own when it comes to street art. Keep your eyes peeled.