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Across Land & Sea Travel Blog

Street art and studios: exploring Melbourne's creative scene

Street art is everywhere in Melbourne.

It adorns famous alleys and hidden laneways, weaving a maze of creativity around street corners throughout the city.

From commissioned murals to graffiti tags, Melbourne's walls act as the gallery for an artistic community which embraces creativity at all levels.

Taking a street art tour allows you to get under the skin of the city's thriving arts culture. It introduces you to some of the most active, famous and up-and-coming street artists, and helps you understand the meaning behind just some of the spray paint. 


Melbourne Street Art Tours have been runnings since 2009, and they are the only street art tours run by street artists, who work out of Blender Studios. 

Our guide was Junky Projects, (Daniel Lynch) who previously lived in Newcastle, but left the sun-soaked beaches for Melbourne as he wasn't interested in creating what he called 'hotel lobby art'. After meeting him at Federation Square, we headed to the famous Hosier Lane. 

HOSIER LANE

Perhaps the most visited and celebrated alley in Melbourne, Hosier Lane has been showcasing street art for around seventeen years - since before Federation Square was built. 

Pieces can stay on the main 'wall of fame' for around three months, if they are particularly striking. Turn the corner, though, and it's not unusual for street art to be replaced over thirteen times a week. Its now a legal painting area so anyone can paint the walls, which destroys some of the finer artwork.

Long-lasting artwork such as installations are painted over time and time again, such as Will Coles' balaclava. This, and other similar raised objects, become part of the fabric of street art in the area. 

One piece on Hosier Lane reads 'Hosier Hoodies' (see banner photo). This company sells quality apparel inspired by street art, the proceeds of which go towards crisis accommodation for the homeless, the street artist and the designer who converted it into a digital format. 

Round the corner, Will Coles is one of the most stolen artists in Melbourne. His cast designer purse with the word' Fake' written across is easy to miss (see Dan with his hand on the purse in the below photo), and many of his previous works have been taken so we were unable to view them. Regardless of whether they are being stolen by collectors or opportunist thieves, they are no doubt popular and they make a bold statement. 

It seems as though spray paint holds up many of the walls in Melbourne's CBD. See how many layers of paint are in this chunk?! 

Below is a piece by Adnate, a talented artist elevating large-scale portraits with vibrant colour. This image of an Aboriginal boy is technically brilliant; his eyes have a glossy reflection and the work is delicately detailed. You can find his pieces dotted across the city, each one vast and impressive.

AC/DC LanE & duckboard place

This 'rock alley' is currently painted purple, mourning the loss of Prince. A large portrait has been painted alongside Augus Young, with his famous devil horns. 

The famous Cherry Bar is located down AC/DC Lane, a rock n' roll joint with a modest 200 capacity which boasts previous guests such as the Rolling Stones. They turned Lady Gaga away a couple of years ago, for not being cool enough...

Dan told us that when new apartments were built on top of Cherry Bar, it took a new homeowner six days to complain about the noise. The bar was obliged to pay for new sound insulation costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, which they raised through generous donations. Since then, the City of Melbourne has introduced rules designed to protect areas and businesses from suffering loss at the expense of gentrification.  

This mural of the man holding a tree trunk, by Fintan Magee from Brisbane, is huge! Dan mentioned this was a commissioned piece, so all equipment and materials would have been provided. Such large-scale works are logistically and financially out of reach for many artists. 

Straker's electrifying neon works are extremely vivid, and are two of our favourite pieces on AC/DC Lane. Also by Straker is the window painting which makes you feel as if you are on the inside looking out, rather than the other way round. 

Mike Eleven is the creator of the male face pictured below the dark, imposing lion.

ELSEWHERE IN THE CITY...

Artists are toying with perspective, and these anamorphic pieces are fascinating to look at. If you stand at just the right spot, these 2D images have a 3D quality to them. 

Mayonaize writes in a calligraphy script style, the monochrome letters elaborate. He is also a tattoo artist working in Fitzroy, so his handwork is evidently deliberate and precise. 

This text echoes that of Cholo writing by Mexican gangs in Los Angeles, which marked turf and could save lives - as well as take them. 

We will be publishing the second part of our Melbourne street art series early 2017. In the meantime, check out our Instagram account for some more graffiti snaps!

Across Land & Sea were invited on a tour with Melbourne Street Art Tours. All opinions, photographs and typos are our own. 

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