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Political Graffiti in 2018

In late April on The Conversation Dr. Flavia Marcello. Associate Professor at Swinburne University’s School of Design, asks “Where has Melbourne’s political graffiti gone?” It is worth asking the question but aside from the yearning for the 70s and the overtly political graffiti of those times there wasn’t much to the article.

The scene on the street is now a more complex system, with greater diversity and more types of graffiti and street art operating. Rest assured Dr Marcello there is still plenty of political graffiti and street art in Melbourne. In all kinds of media from aerosol paint to stickers and even yarn bombing. Some of the best is done by stencil artist like Crisp and paste-up artists like Phoenix.

There is a wide variety of causes being promoted from ending Australia’s abuse of refugees to free West Papua. These causes are now in front of the eyes and cameras of international tourists who throng in their thousands to Melbourne’s graffiti attraction of Hosier Lane. The Free West Papua slogan managed to occupy space in the highly desirable Hosier Lane by using a chainlink fence that the aerosol and paste-up artists didn’t want. Consider the subversive power of a series of paste-ups calling to Free Liu Xiaobo in front of the cameras of Chinese tourists taking selfies in Hosier Lane.

So here is a collection of some of the best political street art and graffiti that I’ve seen in Melbourne in the last year or so. Although I am aware that there are many ways that graffiti and street art can be political, as in, contesting public and private space, I have tried to keep the politics of the collection clear and obvious. 

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About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

2 responses to “Political Graffiti in 2018

  • c21styork

    Good to know there’s still political graffiti. In the mid-1970s, two comrades and I were arrested at gunpoint late one night while painting ‘Ban the bash’ and ‘Abolish H Division’ on the Murray Road wall of Pentridge Gaol. The policeman had a .22 rifle and told us he’d been rabbiting at Broadmeadows.

    The non-political graffiti can be worthwhile though, as it can make one smile. I’m thinking of the one, again from the 1970s, in Carlton’s eatery centre that said: “Falafels cause cancer”.

    • Mark Holsworth

      Thanks for story and reminding people was always a mix of graffiti, from the personal to the humorous and the political. I must get in touch with you about the ‘Ban the bash’ campaign.

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