Melbourne Street Art Scene

The graffiti art boom of the early 1980’s has since created a new and unique platform for artists and designers to express their thoughts and ideas and execute these outside of the context of tradition art venues. Graffiti art is seen in many urban areas, often found in pockets of laneways and alleys and attracting locals and tourists due to their unique expression of culture and heritage. At the turn of the millennium, Melbourne saw an organic, spontaneous growth of street art, with street artists being named as subcultural heroes. Melbourne has been named as the worlds largest public art gallery with the City of Melbourne getting on board as an initiative to display the heritage of the area, where since, the city’s street art came to be one of the key cultural calling cards and top tourist attractions. Unlike many other cities where street art is illegal and prosecuted, the City of Melbourne actively promote the city’s street art and recognise that is contributes to Melbourne’s international reputation for vibrant cultural diversity and appeals to local and overseas visitors. The city acknowledge public spaces provide a gallery and stage for artistic expression and approve permits for street art with building owners permission. The City also fund various programs including Graffiti Mentoring and Adopt A Wall programs which highlight their initiative in dealing with the challenge of creating and keeping heritage in Melbourne. Jane Eckett, from the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne says “Street art is largely premised on the idea of ephemerality. I think all street artists are aware that their creations might be painted over, or that the wall they’ve used may be pulled down, but this inherent transience is part of street art’s appeal.” With street art ranging from political slogans, messages of love/hate , painted scenes, community art and professional graffiti artist work, Melbourne’s street art scene allows for a community to develop, where the focus is on maintaining and further developing the heritage of the city and highlighting the unique beauty of street art. Street art allows the public to have a voice and express their opinions through art. An unidentified graffiti artist stated “It is the voice of the public that is meant to be heard by the public”. Street art gives a sense of the area it is influenced by. Worldwide, street art is quite different, with clear political and cultural influences, some more specific to their location than others. Street art was once known to be the voice that’s only heard in the alleys, although through recent years, and the growing need to document our lives online, street art photography has emerged into the digital world creating a dialog for street artists to speak out about current political, cultural and heritage challenges.

Rebecca Staunton


City of Melbourne 2014, Street Art, City of Melbourne, Melbourne, viewed 04/22 2015, <;.

Ien Ang 2001,
Intertwining Histories: Heritage and Diversity,
History Council of NSW, viewed 04/27 2015, <;.

National Trust Melbourne 2015, Heritage Streetscape Under Threat, National Trust, viewed 04/22 2015, <;.

National Trust of Victoria 2015, Street art: ephemerality challenging the sanction of permanence, National Trust of Victoria, Victoria, viewed 04/27 2015, <;.

2 thoughts on “Melbourne Street Art Scene

  1. Isn’t it so interesting that what in so many places is considered ‘vandalism’, such as in Singapore, is legal in Melbourne? I think Melbourne ran such a major risk allowing it as it could have easily gotten out of control but it seems as though having the authority allow it has almost created a mutual relationship with both the councils and the street artists. Really interesting

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel like Melbourne has really embraced what makes street art so interesting, and the way the city handles it makes it much more meaningful and less destructive. It’s probably a great pass time for a lot of younger people who spend time on the streets, and it creates a really interesting, artistic atmosphere!


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