The name of my file for these street art photos is “bomb illustration” – I don’t know what else to call it. They are throw-ups, as in a quick bit of graffiti using one or two colours and it is an illustration. They are about style and imagination. There are artists who do a lot of these like MaxCat and Sims who can fill a whole wall with it. There are artists who do it as a kind of visual tagging, drawing the same thing over and over. And there are unknown artists who draw or paint on walls when the opportunity and the environment presents to them. I enjoy them.
Tag Archives: aerosol art
The Charles Street artist market was set up in the carpark of the Sporting Club carpark in Brunswick. There were paintings hanging on the fence but I’d seen the best of them two years ago at the Yard in 696. There were stalls around the edge of the carpark and people were painting on easels in the middle. The paintings were mostly awful amateur efforts. There were also painting activities for children for a gold coin donation that were proving popular. The dozen or so stalls were a mix of more painting, craft, new age craft and two excellent wooden furniture makers. One of the furniture makers, Benjamin Hitchings Designs, also had elegantly spiky wood and clay objets-d’art.
Well-known Melbourne-based, street artist, Drew Funk was spray-painting a scene on the side of shipping container as a guy plays acoustic blues guitar. The usual scene of angular Chinese style trees along with a turtle and birds was emerging as Drew casually sprayed, chatted, cleaned the nozzle of his spray-can and sprayed some more. Drew Funk is a hard working artist – is there a bar in Melbourne that doesn’t have a wall painted by Drew Funk? I’ve asked this rhetorical question before and I soon had the answer as in the Sporting Club’s beer garden there is a large aerosol mural by Yowza. Yowza’s intense scene has a ruined temple, lots of lush vegetation and strange mutant Pliocene creatures.
I sat in the beer garden writing up my notes and drinking pear cider. I’ve never had pear cider before. It was smooth and refreshing compared to an apple cider that I expect to have a crisp dry finish. What should I expect from pear cider? What am I expecting from a small artist’s market? I wasn’t expecting much from either. The weather was beautiful; the sun shone and a cool breeze caressed the skin. It was good to see what was happening in Brunswick on a summer Sunday afternoon.
Sweet Streets is all over now for another year. Week 2 was the final week of the Sweet Streets, a festival of urban and street art; not that my work as secretary is done, there is still the AGM to organize and clean up of the venues to complete. I also have to finish putting my notes from the festival’s artist’s forum together into a coherent blog entry.
I was feeling a bit burnt out from all the festivals, not just Sweet Streets but also the Melbourne Festival, the Fringe Festival and life. There is so much packed into Melbourne’s calendar in October, the only time available after the football season and before the end of year silly season. So I took a walk in the spring sunshine around the Fitzroy portion of the artist’s trail. I hadn’t thought about the therapeutic value of this walk until I was contacted by an Occupational Therapist at the Alfred, who wanted to take a group of clients on the walk. Walking is very good exercise and having a reason to be observant on a walk also feels good. I was vaguely hoping that I might meet up with Judy Baxt who was going to be working on her yarn bombing part of the trail and to talk about yarn bombing with her. I must catch up with her another time.
I didn’t make it to the opening of the Collingwood Underground part of the festival. Sweet Streets (and the Melbourne Stencil Festival in previous years) is one of the few arts festivals to actually produce art and not just present it. The artists in the festival collaborate to produce works that are auctioned off at the end of the festival. The Collingwood Underground, a disused carpark, provides the space for the collaboration and interaction between the participating artists, as well as, workshops for the public. Some of the work in the underground was documented on a video by one of the artists, Danny.
I’m not the only one who is worn out. The unofficial star of the festival has been Daniel (aka Junky Projects). He has been everywhere – running workshops, drinking at openings, talking at the forum, and wearing a variety of outrageous sunglasses and clothes. Look at a set of photos of the festival and there he is larger than life. There have been rumours on the street that Junky Projects is a female heroin addict. They are not true – he is a large man with red hair and beard. However, he was too sick with a cold to be the auctioneer for the annual charity auction at the end of the festival, so Phil Hall, the artistic director, stepped in to fill the gap.
Are they selling the walls now?
The objective of the charity auction was to “raise money for the future of Sweet Streets as well as the Collingwood Housing Estate Arts Community, and Anglicare Victoria – our chosen charities” (quoting the festival website). Most of it will be put towards paying for this year’s festival, but that is the future of Sweet Streets.
For those of you interested in the fiscal value of street art, the auction raised over $10,000 (up from $6,000 last year). The highest prices were: an Obey (A/P artist’s proof print) $300, large Civil/Boo collaboration $450, HaHa canvas $410 and a large Debs $800. (For those making comparisons in US$ the AUS$ is basically at parity with the US$ this weekend, a fraction less).
The large wall at the far north end of Brunswick Station has been covered with excellent aerosol art for years and repainted annually sponsored by Villain (stockists of spray paint, designer toys, art, books and clothing). Villain has been presenting this wall for three years, with a different mural each year. These murals have been defaced before but this time something different happened.
Adnate, Slicer, Itch, Morta, Deams, Zode, AWOL and UDS were repainting it this year. It was almost finished when the painting was defaced by a vandal, who slashed it with lines of pink spray paint. It was an angry and aggressive attack. The vandal revelled in ruining the work of these artists before it had even been completed. The vandal was some guy called Paul – he wrote his name along with angry messages with the same spray paint. It was like he looking for a fight.
Paul also trashed some of other pieces and not others – so obviously he had a particular antipathy towards the artists painting the wall. He also damaged two new pieces just around the corner from the large wall and a large blockbuster style AWOL that has been up at the station for many years. Paul clearly doesn’t like AWOL’s work and has been spraying over it around Brunswick.
Inspired by the vandalism, AWOL cropped the piece by buffing parts of it with a paint roller into a blockbuster style version of AWOL. Undeterred, Paul vandalized this but with the cropped buffing form it was easy for AWOL to quickly return it to its second state incorporating Paul’s spray-paint into the piece. Now that he was just another contributor to AWOL’s piece, Paul gave up. AWOL retouched his old piece, but two pieces were not so easy to repair and remain slightly damaged by Paul’s aerosol slashes.
Both AWOL and Paul are spraying on Brunswick Station walls; the difference is that AWOL’s work is beautiful and creative whereas Paul’s actions are ugly and destructive. Finally AWOL added the last word to the large wall in this aerosol battle: “AWOL – Always Winning Over Losers”.
Cold, grey and damp, the winter sky over Fitzroy was as dull as the art that I was seeing that day. Then I entered Dianne Tanzer’s gallery and saw the combined exhibition of Natalie Ryan and Reko Rennie. And it wasn’t just the bright colours of the art that raised my spirits. Natalie Ryan and Reko Rennie are both artists who have become notable this year. Reko Rennie is a Aboriginal artist with a stencil street art background; he is now presenting on the ABC’s Art Nation. And there is a video about Natalie Ryan’s work from the ABC’s Art Nation. Animals are the subject for both of these artists and this brings this exhibition together.
Natalie Ryan creates flock-covered sculptures of animals but there is more to the work than just this unique visual identity. There are art and decorative references in Ryan’s sculptures the game hunter’s trophies and the still life gaming pieces. What was once considered a noble sport has now become kitsch and disturbing. And this change of value is reversed with Ryan’s use of the kitsch flock to create high quality art. In the final space there is a covered flock form glowing with the ultraviolet intensity of Yves Klein International Blue.
I remember visiting the large taxidermy works when I was a child living in Kenya. The smell of the tanning hides is my strongest memory. Then there were all the sculpted moulded forms, for all the big game animals being prepared for museum dioramas. Taxidermy animals are not stuffed; the animal’s skin is stretched over the form, providing the muscles, soft tissues and skeletal structure except for the ears and tails. Natalie Ryan doesn’t use many real parts from the animals, sometimes teeth or horns; it is the artificial parts, the glass eyes etc. used to create these stuffed animals with the flock replaces the real animal skin.
In this exhibition Reko Rennie is taking spray paint stencil art back to its decorative and architectural origins. Stencils were commonly used to paint decorations on walls in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. The red and yellow geometric pattern painted wall by Rennie are hung with a row of Ryan’s pink flock covered animal heads. Another wall has large gum leaf and flower stencils is hung with Rennie’s aerosol stencil paintings of Australian birds.
Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects has changed; the white cube has gone, the narrow entrance gallery has gone and the space has opened up. It no longer pretending to be just an space containing art. What once was previously hidden behind walls, like the office space, has been revealed; there is a table and chairs in the front window. It looks like there is more life in the place.
There are plenty of fresh new pieces of street art around Melbourne. Hosier Lane is always a great place to look for fresh new work. I didn’t get to see Tuvs Day’s 72m living room piece because it had already been painted over. That was quick. I met Tuv when he was doing volunteer work for the Melbourne Stencil Festival last year. He sent me this photo of the huge piece.
I did see a large collaborative piece by Paton, Jason, Deb, Amek, HaHa, Bradd, CK, Monkey, GMO, Madre and Russia. With this many artists there is such a mix of styles and techniques in this collaboration. And there is a series of Obey posters by Shepard Fairey in City Lights (the series light boxes in Hosier Lane) mixing Soviet style posters with contemporary political themes.
The recently removed Banksy’s rat has been remembered in a number of ways on the walls of Hosier Lane. There are some fresh pink and blue stencil copies in the same place that the old original parachuting black rat had been sprayed. There were also a couple of more creative responses to the buffing of Banksy.
Away from Hosier Lane I saw a great spray painted van in Collingwood near the former Per Square Metre gallery and studio. I should put a collection of photographs of trucks, cars and vans with street art style decorations – not that I’ve seen that many. And bit of guerrilla gardening going on around Flanagan Lane – this is one of the best examples that I have yet seen.
I had my eyes tested before going to the Banksy film – Exit Through the Gift Shop – everyone should have their eyes tested every two years. Exit Through the Gift Shop is a film about why there isn’t a documentary film about Banksy – so this review of the film isn’t about the film. I remember one of my housemates coming into the house just after Hardcore Logo had started – seeing Joey Ramone talk about the Canadian punk rock band it took my housemate a long time to realize that this was just a movie. Orson Wells’s film, F for Fake lives up to Well’s promise to tell the truth about fakes for the next 60 minutes and then runs for over an hour. My eyes still feel a bit strange and I do need glasses for reading.
The cattery carpark in Collingwood, a collection of images of cats created in a collective and collaborative work by local street artists. The carpark is appropriately next to Cat Cosmopolitan, a cattery on the corner of Langridge St. and Wellington St. in Collingwood.
Taken as a whole work, as a collaborative effort, this is possibly the largest work of art featuring cats since the Sphinx was constructed. To give a short history of the depiction of cats in Western art, and it is a very short history because there aren’t many after the Egyptians. Occasionally a cat is included in 13th century frescos, particularly scavenging scraps under the table in scenes of the last supper. Cats would continue to be included in scenes with other collections of domestic animals throughout Western art but were rarely the focus of artistic interest. When the Impressionists started to paint domestic scenes images of cats became more common but in the 20th century there was an explosion of cat images with the emergence of cartoon cats.