This blog was originally posted at Jo Tracey Astrology in January 2012. I am gradually moving all travel posts over here.
Into street art, or what people used to call graffiti before it became artistic and trendy? Some artists now are completely mainstream and sell their work through galleries and for huge amounts of money.
Melbourne has embraced the artform and is now running competitions and sponsoring artists- all part of the whole edgy scene. There is, however, a huge difference between street art and nuisance tagging or graffiti.
If you want commentary and detail, there are a few companies that specialise in walking tours around the city, through the laneways etc. There are walking tours for chocoholics, for vintage shoppers and for those who want to check out the seedy underbelly. But, I’m a tight arse and prefer to wander on my own. In any case, throw some comfy shoes on, grab your camera- this is my guide to the best of the street art in the CBD…at the moment anyway! Remember the transient nature of this stuff- it is changing all the time…which is just one of the things that is so cool about it.
Start at the steps at Flinders St station. Everyone meets on the steps, under the clocks, so it is the perfect place to begin your walk from. There was even a song written about the clocks- Under the Clocks– Weddings, Parties & Anything did it…here is the link (“is there anywhere you’d rather be than with me at the MCG?”)…
Anyways, we’re starting at the steps. To your right is what I happen to think is an amazing space and others consider an eyesore- Federation Square, or Fed Square. It was supposed to have opened in time to celebrate the centenary of Australian Federation in 2001, but was a couple of years late.
So now as well as being on any design students must see list, it is also used in case studies for Project Management students as a demonstration of what happens when scope creep isn’t properly costed, analysed and risk assessed. For my money, it is also a great place to hang out, veg out, have a drink or a meal and watch sport on the big screen.
Besides, I like it.
From here walk straight ahead, up Swanston St and take the first street on your right- immediately behind St Pauls Cathedral. This is Flinders Lane.
Hosier Lane, on your right, just before Russell St, is arguably the jewel in the crown of Melbourne’s street art. Always changing, it seems as if every available inch is covered in colour.
At the bottom of the lane is Movida Restaurant- amazing Spanish inspired food. Both this and the neighbouring café have built the art into their outside fitout. Keep an eye out for the light boxes on the wall- Hosier is also an official arts installation.
Back on Flinders Lane, head to your right, up the hill, crossing over Russell Street. Just before you come to the next cross street (Exhibition St) is AC/DC Lane. The art here is currently a little worse for wear and all in the genus flannellus rockus ie based around the rock band AC/DC.
Re-trace your steps back down Flinders Lane. Cross over Swanston Street and use all your powers of discipline to walk past the edgy fashion stores- time for serious shopping afterwards.
The first almost lane on the left is Scott Alley. It is known for having just one piece, a Banksy (the name in street art) behind Perspex. Stop if you want.
Next on the list is Degraves Street and Centre Place. If your exertions so far have left you caffeine deprived, stop here. If not, head to your right up Centre Place. Right before the stairs take a left into what looks like a dead end with dumpsters. There are often buskers in here. There are also some really cool pieces- large and bold.
From here you can walk through to Collins Street (if the mall is open- alternatively you will need to back track into Flinders Lane and take a left to Swanston St). Cross the road and walk through The Block Arcade, taking care to resolutely ignore the pastries and chocolates.
This will bring you to Little Collins Street. Turn right and keep your eye out for Union Lane (on your left- just past the Royal Arcade and the Walk Arcade). Some great art in here.
Follow Union Lane through to Bourke Street Mall. Turn right, cross at Swanston and then head up Swanston just one block to Little Bourke Street. The gates symbolize the entry to Chinatown. Come back here for a meal or some dumplings- plenty of great options.
Take the third lane on the left- Heffernan Lane. The art here is a little more difficult to see and consists of what appear to be street signs or shop neons. Take your time, read the motivational signs and work out what is real and what is art.
From here it is through to Lonsdale Street and the start of the Greek precinct. Check out the pastry shops- what’s a little baklava or spanakopita when you have been walking so far?
Head left down Lonsdale Street and back across Swanston Street. Take the first lane on the left- Caledonian Lane- and follow the distinctive aroma of eau (or should that be eeeeuw?) de dumpster. It’s pretty manky down but the colour is great. My favourite here is a rather dire warning to lane patrons as to what will happen to various body parts if they continue to use the doorway as a urinal. Hmmmm.
Follow the lane through to Little Bourke St and you will find yourself at the back of department stores and shopping central.
Want more? Hop a tram up to Fitzroy, wander up and down Gertrude Street before heading down Brunswick Street. Lots of wall art in the side streets- and the shops and cafes are well worth a look.
Other Melbourne posts over at Jo Tracey Astrology: