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The Stains of Time

By Adrian Doyle

Published: June 25th 2020

Whether it’s the sound of the trams rattling down the road or the endless rows of amazing and fascinating restaurants that both delight and challenge the taste buds, there are many things that make Melbourne great.

The way multiculturalism makes the city even greater and how Melbournians run to the park to drink with friends at the first sign of the sun, Melbourne is a unique and unusual city, a beautiful playground for the rich and not so rich.

The stains of time drip down the walls and laneways leaving evidence of generational nuisance. Over the years Melbourne’s grit and grime has given it a flavor of historical significance, with the old and the new converging or coexisting. Melbourne’s hidden myriad of marks, spots, and tags amalgamate with the wear and tear of time to create street art that often goes unnoticed.

The government spends so much time and money trying to make the city look beautiful, presentable and grime free. But this clean veneer doesn’t interest me, it’s almost a loss of identity as the homogenised parts of the city remind me of everywhere I’ve ever been. The shopping centres try hard to create a seamless and curated experience that reminds me of the shopping centres at international airports.

But walk a few metres off the main streets and away from the shopping centres, and you enter a new world, a smelly world where a mixture of human waste, rotting food and other unidentified smells, come together and heat up to create a pungent yet sensory experience. It is in this space Melbourne is truly a living breathing beast of a city. It’s also in this space where some of the most interesting art lies. Whether is art or not, could be subjective.

When you look around, up at the walls, down on the ground, you will see the stains of time. An incidental and disregarded chewing gum that may have been dropped 50 years ago, a scuff mark on the wall from a truck that scraped along it, the faded tags on the wall and road and the moss that grows over the drains above the bin. These are the stains of Melbourne’s history. Each mark is a story a life, evidence of the past. I can even remember a busker who used to remove bubble gum from the front of Myer.

As the city gentrifies and much of the city is changing, it’s important to make sure you engage with your city in new and interesting ways. Look down at the marks, the randomness of an evolving living city, walk off the main streets and enjoy the hidden and often smelly streets that reveal an artform that tells the story of Melbourne


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