"Tessa" by DVATE, part of the Formula 1 crew, shows the style of one of Melbourne's street artists who began by leaving his work along the suburban railway lines near where he was born and later exhibited internationally. He now runs a mural painting business that produces work for both private and public spaces in Melbourne.
Melbourne – Been There

That time a Banksy piece got scrubbed off a Melbourne wall

Photo by Sue Bryant

Melbourne – Been There That time a Banksy piece got scrubbed off a Melbourne wall

Street art is by nature temporary, as Melbourne City Council found to its cost in 2010. A priceless stencil of a parachuting rat by British artist Banksy, whose pieces can sell for six figures, was painted over by council cleaners sent to scrub up Hosier Lane.

Sue Bryant
Sue Bryant Travel Writer

The city's laneways and their artworks have become such an attraction that there is now a cottage industry of books, maps and walking tours. The problem is that they change all the time. An artist may create a work of almost impossible beauty, only to have someone else spray over it.

Eril Deighton, 80, is a photographer who has made a small business out of street art greeting cards, living proof that its appeal spans all generations. “I was walking along Hosier Lane one day and decided to look for things to photograph,” she says. “My aim is to get a photo before a piece of art gets tagged. It’s not much use then. There was a beautiful painting of Ganesh in Hosier Lane and someone tagged it. The girl who painted it was asked back and has now re-done it. Some of the art is just beautiful. I started producing cards, just for fun, and now I sell them through shops and galleries.”

Street art is not confined to the city center. In the leafy streets of Fitzroy, wealthy homeowners have commissioned the top street artists to adorn their houses, and not in a subtle way; facades and garage doors are embellished with angels, sea monsters, psychedelic faces and on one white cottage, a beautiful blue eye design. In Wood Street, a smart road lined with plane trees and purple agapanthus blooms, a house on the corner has a pretty Victorian lacework balcony on the front – and a giant-sized, photo-like cartoon of a bearded man in bright pink all along the side. The piece is by Glasgow-based artist Smug One, like Banksy, reclusive but a legend in the world of street art.

Melbourne's laneways are an urban art lover's dream. Want to be surrounded by them? Check out this Local Expert-recommended hotel near Hosier Lane!

dh3h8p

ACDC Lane – where this graffito decorates a corner – was renamed in 2004 to celebrate the Australian heavy metal rock group, although street signage punctuation rules mean the name lost AC/DC's trademark slash. The laneway, formerly Corporation Lane, was chosen for its central position in Melbourne's music district. Photo by Kristin Duvall / Alamy

Kristin Duvall

Kristin Duvall

Agency
Alamy

ACDC Lane – where this graffito decorates a corner – was renamed in 2004 to celebrate the Australian heavy metal rock group, although street signage punctuation rules mean the name lost AC/DC's trademark slash. The laneway, formerly Corporation Lane, was chosen for its central position in Melbourne's music district.

Other stories about Melbourne