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Street Art: The Community's Gallery

The lively Glenferrie mural by Justine McAllister sits just off Glenferrie Road in Linda Crescent. Its vibrant design includes a little tribute to beloved Coles employee Blake, who suddenly passed away during the mural’s creation in 2020. On the wall opposite is another of Justine’s works, titled ‘Forever Hawthorn’, which pays homage to the iconic Hawthorn Football Club, whose spiritual home is the Glenferrie Oval a little further along Linda Crescent.

The Glenferrie Hawthorn area currently boasts an increasing trend towards large scale murals, with commissioned works attracting talented artists and admirers alike to our neck of the woods. Our recent and not-so-recent history informs some local pieces, while education and beautification are represented as well. Our street art is not only educational, abstract and informal, but also fulfils a commercial role in business promotion. However, this very public art form has fought long and hard for the recognition it enjoys today.

Initially, street art was an expressive form of spray painting, often seen in dense urban areas, with artists utilising pseudonyms or ‘tags’ as their only form of identification. In late-’70s New York, this emerging art-form earned the title of ‘Neo-expressionism’, somewhat legitimising it. Attitudes to street art began to change and artists who had previously favoured anonymity, began gaining recognition and respect for their compositions, leading to this once underground art movement shaking off its stigma as a sign of urban decline. Nowadays, many street artists use public spaces to tell visual stories that tap into the zeitgeist and reflect a changing society. At a fundamental level, these artworks brighten up our streetscapes and act as colourful landmarks. Yet they also invite speculation, educate the viewer and celebrate people’s stories.

Many examples of street art’s wide reaching subject matter and purpose can be found locally, and in abundance. In our laneways, large scale murals that neatly combine beautification, promotion and local history are presented in full, panoramic glory. On Glenferrie Road, there are bold images inspired by recent traumatic events that have gone on to shape and reshape our community. These tributes sit neatly alongside more whimsical, promotional works which in turn are barely a stone’s throw from art celebrating growing indigenous recognition and reconciliation as well as mankind’s relationship with nature and progress. Herein lies the primary difference between graffiti and street art, as the latter can be defined as having an inclusive purpose beyond graffiti’s more antisocial connotations.

Further differences can be found in street art’s medium as well as its desire to connect with, rather than confront its audience. Developing from hastily applied aerosol spray paint into high quality weather-proof enamel, modern street art captures the feeling of longevity. This, as well as its rebranding, is certainly in part a side effect of gentrification. Graffiti grew out of social dissonance during a time when opportunity for personal growth existed only for the wealthy and well-connected. In the same way that punk and hip hop music gave a voice to the so-called underclasses, graffiti became their own form of visual expressionism. Nowadays, artists who work in this field are not reacting to oppressive social standards that exclude them, they are controlling the narrative around street art as a perpetually changing format that now is now viewed as a legitimate form of expression rather than an act of vandalism.

Speaking on street art’s perpetuity in public spaces, artist James Price, whose sports-themed mural can be seen in Grace Park, states, “Permanence in public art doesn’t do a service to the community. Communities change, and their artwork needs to reflect that.”

Artist Adnate’s portrait of Swinburne professor Dr Andrew Peters, a Yarra Yarra and Yorta Yorta man, was created in 2021 in recognition of him as a teacher of indigenous knowledge. Adnate explains, “The mural connects generations and the transferal of knowledge that is still relevant today”. Running diagonally behind Dr Peters’ neck is an image of a grass woven eel trap. A reference to ancient Indigenous technology that has been passed on for thousands of years. “Mum [Aunty Dot Peters] learned how to make these when she was a little girl from her grandmother,” says Dr Peters. “It was a way for her to relax and to connect with her spirits. It’s what we’d now call meditation or mindfulness. The eel trap is a personal connection, but it’s also a clear link to technology.”

Celebrated street artist, Rone created this large-scale portrait during the first phase of the pandemic in 2020. He explains it as, “the perfect harmony of beauty and decay... I see my work as semi- permanent. Paint will only last so long, but I intentionally painted it to look like it is part of the building so hopefully it will fade with grace.”

James Price painted this whimsical sports-themed mural on the rebound wall at Grace Park. James is an artist who views his work as, “life in its purest form.” His joy of painting comes from the simple act of being able to give. “My work is only a little bit ‘mine’. Mostly it belongs to the community.”

Artists Alex Sugar (fauna) and Portal (text) shared double-billing as they produced this beautiful native fauna piece at the rear of The Kilburn for an event to raise awareness of the non-human victims of the bushfires in 2019.

Jimmy DVate has became an ‘in demand’ mural artist, creating a vast resume of mammoth-scale flora and fauna works since this 2015 piece behind Lido Cinemas. In this work, Jimmy’s portrayal of rigid, structured grids clashing with freeform shapes, perfectly epitomises the urban landscape.

Duo Ambrose Rehorek and Chanel Tang, who go by the tag ‘Creature Creature’ created this mural titled Ether in 2021. They explain, “Ether was made in celebration of Swinburne University research into space and aerospace technology. It seeks to balance humanity, technology and nature, with these elements coexisting in harmony for a connected vision for the future.”

This psychedelic mural by Lynne Bremner in Glenferrie Place was created in 2021 to specifically reflect the Ninety-Nine Pancakes colour scheme and the simple, mood-enhancing joy of eating pancakes.

Mural 1; Coles Local in Linda Crescent. Artist Justine McAllister

Mural 2; Swinburne University in Burwood Road. Artist Adnate

Mural 3; Open Windows/Kilburn in Burwood Road. Artist Rone

Mural 4; Grace Park. Artist James Price

Mural 5; Electricity Substation in Luton Lane. Artist Alex Sugar

Mural 6; Lido Cinemas in Grace Street. Artist Jimmy DVate

Mural 7; Glenferrie Station, Railway Arcade. Artist Creature Creature

Mural 8; Ninety-Nine Pancakes in Glenferrie Place. Artist Lynne Bremner


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