After mentioning the quality graffiti in and around Melbourne in our Destination Melbourne guide recently I decided to revisit some of it's best haunts when I was down for the weekend. Gone are the days of disaffected youth and the underground subculture inspired by New York graffiti in decades past. What I discover in their place is a dynamic, flourishing street art scene, touted on Melbourne’s official websites and listed in tourist guides to the city.
I shouldn’t be surprised then - that as I’m seeking out the (in)famous Hosier lane at the bottom of town - the masses are already there with cameras in hand. The smell of aerosol wafts down to me and as I round the corner there's a couple of young guys trying on a large version of their tag for size. There's large rows of bins covered in quick tags and fancy restaurants behind polished glass hidden down the end of lanes. I pass two guided tours in the space of five minutes and wonder at the interesting juxtaposition of cultures. I hear one concerned about the proposed development next door and the implications for the future of Hosier Lane. Some things never chance I guess but somehow I'm confident that the tourism successes of the streets will weigh-out over big business interests. Maybe I'm just naive...
But graffiti in Melbourne is not only limited to the well know Hosier and AC/D lanes. You’ll also find it dotted around the city on the sides of various walls and even private houses. Melbourne held the fist stencil art festival in the world in 2004 which featured many major international artists and continues to cultivate a culture that supports graffiti in all its art forms. My advice is to breeze past the aforementioned well-known laneways in the city, but then take the opportunity to wander round some of the other suburbs such as Brunswick and Fitzroy for the chance to stumble upon equally interesting pieces around every-other unassuming corner. In my view, that's the way street art is meant to be.