Hosier and Rutledge Lanes continue to attract local, national and international interest with it’s ever increasing foot traffic, street tours, photographers, wedding parties and school excursions. It’s been an unpredictable ride toward a safer and more friendly laneway culture, with the graffiti and arts communities revisiting this well trodden and at times controversial destination.
Much has been written about the pros and cons of street art and graffiti. CBD News has been following the progress of the PaintUp! series, while Black Mark is prolific in writing about his journey seeking out Melbourne’s art and culture. New books such as Street Art Now and Street Art:Melbourne feature the works of street artists as an ongoing record of the fleeting nature of this creative medium.
City councils are becoming more strategic in their approaches to social inclusion, urban amenity and crime prevention. At the core of the Hosier Inc discourse with the users of the laneways has been a belief that creative endeavour outperforms punitive measures – although there is still little research to back these projects. Nonetheless, we have seen a huge increase in public interest, and an accompanying groundswell of foot traffic to the area. If increased traffic is a deterrent to anti-social behaviour, the success of the Hosier Lane experience appears self evident. The flip side of this is benefit is evident in the percentages – larger crowds bring inevitable incidents, irrespective of the numbers.
While Melbourne council City of Yarra considers graffiti tours, the public debate and accompanying backlash needs to be tempered with a discussion about street amenity, safety and aesthetic sensibility. We’ve seen Hosier Lane go through phases of renewal and overpainting, including significant tagging. The outcome is very much in the eye of the beholder – tagging has it’s proponents, street art and murals have their detractors. The discussion around graffiti, street art, writing, stencils, street sculpture, gallery and commercial art generates fervent opinions and responses depending upon who’s talking.
At the end of the day, none of the subjective assessments really matter – our laneway appears to be a much safer, vibrant and enjoyable place to be! Indeed, the street community has embraced the precinct in ways we could never anticipate, such is the unpredictable nature of a vibrant social discourse overlaid upon this uncontrollable landscape. Who knows what the future holds, but we’re pretty sure local, state and federal governments see the value.
Here’s an old piece published by the ABC way back in 2013 – for old times sake!