Alison Young is a socio-legal researcher who developed the City of Melbourne’s Draft Strategy on Graffiti in 2004. In an article published in 2010 for the journal “City,” she explains that she’d proposed “zones of tolerance” that were meant to decriminalise street art in particular areas, with self-monitoring by artists, who would enter into partnerships with the Council and local police to maintain the zones. The plan was designed to be “be inclusive, balanced, informed and equitable.” This meant protecting private property of residents, but also allowing artists more freedom in designated public spaces.
Young shows how the proposed plan was rejected despite her research showing that the residents of Melbourne had widespread support for street artist zones (75% of public submissions partially or fully supported the proposed plan). Instead, the City chose to maintain the plan by the State of Victoria, which focuses on “eradication, education and enforcement.” The preferred plan was to teach youth that graffiti is wrong and illegal, rather than engaging their interests and promoting collaboration and support for young artists.
The City wanted a plan that clearly stated that street art was “unwanted and unwelcome,” despite public consultations showing public consensus that street art adds “cultural value to the city.” Why the change of heart? More in a later post.
This is the first in a series which you can follow on my Instagram on the hashtag #SociologyOfStreetArt
Photos: Zuleyka Zevallos. If this is your art, please get in touch so I can credit you properly.
Francis Lymburner was initially critiqued for painting as if he might “plunge into the abyss of formlessness.” He travelled around Europe throughout the 1950s to the mid-1960s, and rarely exhibited his work. He returned to Sydney in 1966 and suffered a cerebral haemorrhage which stopped him from ever painting again. Thankfully, his drawings had been published in the 1950s and again in 1970, which preserved his work. The Australian Gallery of New South Wales exhibited Lymburner’s work in 1992 which helped revive his art and cemented his reputation as a leading Australian artist.
New York, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Melbourne, Rio, and Sao Paulo are palimpsests of visual information in the consumerist attention economy, every visual signifier discharged in a real-time competition and rivalry for observers’ attention. World cities have known territories and hierarchies, Irvine, The Work on the Street peripheries and zones for industry or marginalized classes, all of which are assumed and exploited in street art. For street artists, a city is an information engine… Walls and structures can be de-purposed, repurposed, de-faced, refaced, de-made, remade. - Martin Irvine, The Handbook of Visual Culture.
Images: Street art, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. August 2013.
Photos: Zuleyka Zevallos. If this is your art, please get in touch so I can credit you.
We Can Be Heroes is a photographic series by Indigenous artist Tony Albert. It was awarded the National Aborginal and Torres Straight Islander Art Award. The artist “made the work after Sydney police shot two Aboriginal teenagers who drove into a Kings Cross footpath in April 2012.” He says: “We are kind of walking targets in society, whether that be through police violence or brutality, or being followed around in shops.”
Abdul Abdullah, I wanted to paint him as a mountain, 2014
Oil on canvas.
Perth artist Abdul Abdullah is a wildly talented second-generation Australian-Muslim painter. This piece is his third finalist entry in the Archibald Prize (his work was selected in 2011, 2013 and 2014). This portrait features Indigenous artist and activist Richard Bell. Bell is a founding member of Indigenous art collective proppaNOW. The artist says of Bell:
I see him as mountainous – hence the title – the type of person who fills a room when he enters it. From there it was a small step to visualising him in a space suit, casting a discerning, critical gaze on this country from space as if to say, “you’ve messed it all up.”
‘The ANSA logo on the suit points to this proposition, being the same logo that Charlton Heston’s character wears in Planet of the apes. In this way I have portrayed him as an outspoken astronaut who has arrived on a planet gone mad, and is the only one making sense.’