Finally the markets are open today, so we head off to pick out some fresh yummy produce to create a late breakfast. There is shop after shop of fresh fruit and vegetables, wine, cheeses, breads, meats, desserts – the heady smells making you greedy to try everything and all at once. We settle on making some scrambled eggs, enhanced by low fat fetta, Spanish chorizo and fresh baby spinach. And it makes a wonderful start to the day.
With a few hours to kill, Mum and I head out into the very cold, windy Melbourne streets. At times I feel like Marcel Marceau pushing forward at a 45 degree angle against the wind, pressing on towards our destination. At one point my hat flies off and I have to chase it down the street and save it from a curb side puddle. But we finally arrive at the Spencer Street Discount centre, which used to be DFO Spencer Street to hunt out some bargains. But what a disappointment! Most of the shops listed on the brochure don’t even exist here anymore. And there aren’t that many discounts. The place looks like it is shrinking before our eyes, so we decide to hop on a tram and just head into the city.
We browse around the Bourke Street Mall before stopping off for sandwiches and coffee. But finally it is time for what I’ve been looking forward to because this afternoon, I’ve booked on to join the Melbourne Street Art tour. There’s a few of these tours around, and cheaper than the ones I’ve selected, but the Melbourne Street Art Tours are actually run by street artists so I’m hoping the up close and personal knowledge will give a special edge to the tour.
My Aunt and Uncle always nurtured my love of art and design, my Uncle even going so far as setting me up to spend a day at a friends advertising agency on one of my early visits. I remember lots of trips to galleries and even to view the drawings of the costumes from the musical South Pacific when it was in town. So even though this wouldn’t be their kind of art, which wouldn’t have bothered them anyway, I feel as though this is a thank you to them to let them know that even though I never ended up entering the art field, I still to this day treasure it and continue to explore it whenever I can. And I feel so lucky that they always encouraged this in me.
Meeting at Federation Square, our guide for today is Michael Fikaris, a Melbourne based artist who works mainly as a painter and illustrator. He has also collaborated in many publications, exhibitions and public murals in Melbourne and abroad. He tells us the routes change depending on the crowd and any requests, so I quickly jump in with my request to visit ACDC Lane, which I tried to get to last time I was here. But first up, we start off in probably one of the most well-known lanes – Hosier.
Hosier Lane is a much celebrated landmark in Melbourne mainly due to its sophisticated urban art of high quality and of an often political nature. The graffiti-covered walls and art-installations have become a popular backdrop for fashion and wedding photography. It even has its own website – http://www.hosierlane.com. It’s interesting to learn that graffiti doesn’t just cover the spray painted murals you are normally used to seeing, but also paper cutouts/stickups and art installation pieces. Straight away I love the pieces by Yola (a female Polish street artist, check out her work at www.Yolart.net), Swoon (https://www.facebook.com/SwoonStudio), Baby Guerilla (www.babyguerilla.com), Junky (www.junkyprojects.weebly.com) and Barek (https://www.facebook.com/barek.art).
During our travels, and just as Michael promised we probably would, we run across an artist at work. It’s TwoOne, Hiroyasu Tsuri, who was born in Yokohama, Japan. He moved to Melbourne as a late teen and shows his work internationally. Hiro gained an early interest in art though skate board graphics and graffiti culture. Now his work can be find at the street walls , on the product, Shop/restraint interior, to inside galleries, and Museums. He creates artwork from many different materials and takes subjects from anything in his life. He’s done a heap of commissions and when we find him he is working on a wall outside a Section 8 (funky little laneway bar using crates and shipping containers) in one of Melbourne’s alleyways. He reckons his current work will be finished in an hour or two (for further info on TwoOne, look here: http://blog.twooneelephant.com).
Scattered throughout the streets you can also find impressive social comment pieces by artist Will Coles. Balaclavas represent freedom of speech issues and consumerism. Mobile phones and TV remotes are glued to various spots around the city, ready for the keen eyed to notice (www.willcoles.com).
There’s more alleys and heaps more art before we finally end up at the Blender Studios, coincidentally just round the corner from my hotel – how convenient. They’ve laid out quite a spread of breads and dips, with cheeses and wine, beer or soft drink. We get to have a look around at the artists work and also at the exhibition in the Dark Horse Experiment at the front of the studios. We meet Adrian Doyle, Melbourne Street Art Tours and Blender Studio manager. He is currently working with city of Melbourne as a street art expert consultant to develop a sustainable strategy for Melbourne City and it’s policy in street art. He has been part of the Melbourne street movement since its beginnings, published a book on Street Art in 2008, and has his stencil work in the National Gallery of Australia collection.
It’s been such an incredible afternoon and definitely well worth the money, I think to myself, as I walk away with a limited edition artwork by Will Coles…