By Dr. Adrian Doyle
COVID has been bad for Melbourne, it has made a struggling city fall to its knees.
With restaurants, galleries, crafts shops, everything, shutting down because of COVID, Melbourne has become a shell of its former self. But to be honest, street art has ended up far worse off than the city.
Many of the artists were locked out of the city for much of the past two years, this has meant that artists that might normally come into the city to make art have not been able to. And has left the city walls to just a few artists.
Unfortunately for a variety of reasons these artists don’t understand the rules of Melbourne Street art, the most important one is “don’t go over something if you’re not going be better than it”.
Artists like L-rolo who got stuck in Melbourne because of the pandemic, has systematically destroyed Hosier Lane, one mural at time. He started at the bottom and has now taken around half the lane with his uninspiring artworks, making Hosier Lane less interesting than at any other time. In normal times his work would have been gone over straight away by Melbourne artists. But the artists were not allowed into the city. This guy from overseas has come to Melbourne and destroyed one of Melbourne’s most important icons. And I am not even sure he is aware of it.
There are other artists taking over Hosier, “Painter, Painter” – an interesting artist who is at risk and spends much time in Hosier. She has taken over the Movita’s wall, at the front of Hosier. She does re-do this wall and she paints often with her hands. She isn’t going over everything, she has taken an area and she tends to stick to that space.
In a strange way, it’s nobody’s fault that Hosier is in terrible condition. There have been many opportunities to fix Hosier Lane and bring it back to its former glory. It would take time energy, commitment, and money. Something I don’t think any government body will provide. Even though Hosier is world-famous and attracts people from all around the globe and has its own economy.
I have a feeling that it is probably in the building owners’ and governments’ best interest to let it become tarnished, as they then will be able to develop it and make heaps of money.
Like the following current lanes that have been completely or partially destroyed …
Union Lane, Loveland, Blender Lane, Centre Place, AC/DC Lane, Caledonian Lane, Duckboard Place, Presgrave Place and more.
These are important laneways, and this list is extremely alarming. It seems that wherever artists create a street art precinct, that within a few years it has been usurped by gentrification. I love Melbourne and I hate that we let the fat cats make millions of our culture while destroying it. Street art is an important part of Melbourne’s culture, it is a democratic art created by the young to make the city a more interesting place.