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Painting in Hosier Lane is not Legal

By Adrian Doyle

Published: August 27th 2018

So now it’s official: corporate greed can and does sell out our beautiful city for a quick buck, and the government and police support them in every way they can.

The more-than-distasteful shop known as Culture Kings has done it again. They moved into Hosier Lane to use its credibility and kool to sell hats and haircuts to rich kids.

I have no real problem with this concept so far. But keep in mind Hosier has been an important part of the Melbourne fine art and urban art scene since Amac opened the awesome light boxes known as city lights in 1998.

It has gone through great years but has fallen in standard in the past few years, after the government made the laneway a decriminalised area. This meant that it’s neither legal nor illegal. It fits into a weird grey area where the rules can be interpreted in numerous ways.

Here is what the City of Melbourne stated:

“Hosier and Rutledge Lanes in particular are perceived as ‘free access’ or permissioned locations as a result of long term, largely illegal, activity happening over a significant period of time – in this case we are talking over 20 years. This is a result of the inherently counter cultural and guerrilla ethos that drives graffiti and street artists and the history of the city as it grew.”

Yes that’s right, Hosier Lane is perceived as having “free access” to paint in. This has been annoying for us older artists who liked the lane the way it used to be. And it has meant that the natural order of the urban art movement was corrupted by the government. But in the end it is kind of law that you can paint in Hosier Lane.

So the guys from Culture Kings have called the police to complain about someone painting on the back of their fancy shop. They claim that they pay artists to paint on their shop and that it should not be capped (gone over).

So I will break it down for you:

  • Culture Kings’ shop on the corner of Queen and Flinders (the old Fletcher Jones) is bought out for gentrification. The shop was just keeping its doors open;

  • Culture Kings closes;

  • Signs 10 year lease with the Marriner kids;

  • Creates a back entrance into Hosier;

  • Pays artists to paint the back entrance; and

  • Hires security to stop the homeless people from entering.

Then this week the so called Culture Kings has called the police about artists painting at the back of its shop.

The city of Melbourne supports this move in a statement:

“Council’s role in Hosier and Rutledge Lanes is in managing the outcomes of this activity, both positive such as visitor interest, and negative including inappropriate content, paint fumes, and resident and business concerns.”

“Street art/graffiti is only legal in the City of Melbourne municipality where the property owner has provided written permission and any planning permissions required have been obtained.”

So this is the key to the argument that Culture Kings has been making and it looks like, on some level, the law is on its side.

These punks have moved into Hosier Lane, a declared legal lane, and stomped on all the homeless and the artists and then tried to control the culture that they are exploiting.

To me it seems easy. We vote with our wallets.

If Culture Kings is trying to hurt the culture of Melbourne and the artists that make it great then we should try to hurt them back, with our buying power.

I encourage all artists to paint in Hosier and Rutledge as it is a part of Melbourne’s cultural identity. I can no longer promise you won’t get arrested. So please get this story out there to the suburbs and let the kids know.

To finish off I would like to reflect on a lane that was once the pride of Melbourne.

I often get sad about all the beautiful artists that have come through this most amazing lane. I have seen some of the best art by some of the best artists in the street art world.

So Culture Kings is where the Banksys used to be. And I remember when the council accidently went over them and then someone made fake Banksys and replaced them and people were cool with it.

And we need to remember how this lane started. Nobody seems to care about the past only the present. But when Amac set up the citylights in Hosier and Centre Place it changed the way people interacted with the lane ways.

It was such an amazing time it seemed like everyone was working towards a single goal. Hosier is an amazing place with an amazing history.

We should be aware of our past and not sell our city to rich people that don’t care about anything except their money and their greed. We need to stand up and say no to the exploiters of this beautiful city.


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