Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Everfresh wall in Fitzroy

Recently when I was reading the excellent blog by Very Nearly Almost, I came across a recent post which was celebrating some of Melbourne’s street art (which you can read here) and noticed that the Everfresh wall in Fitzroy was featured.

The post reminded me that I photographed this wall a few weeks ago, with the intention of dedicating a whole post to the amazing work of the Everfresh crew in creating this wall. So here is that post…

Everfresh will be well known to many readers of this blog, since their contribution to street art in Melbourne has been enormous. Their work, both commissioned and uncommissioned, can be seen on walls in many areas of the city (they are well represented in Hosier Lane, for example), but they are most closely associated with Fitzroy and Collingwood, and it’s in the streets of those suburbs that their works can be seen to best effect.

Everfresh are a crew of several artists (including Sync, Rone, Makatron, Reka, Meggs, and Phibs), who work as a group, solo, and in all possible combinations allowed by the group. They have evolved a very distinctive style, which, once you are familiar with it, is instantly recognisable. here’s one example, seen in a laneway in Fitzroy:

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Last year, when I was in Amsterdam, I had the pleasure of looking up at a wall outside the Cafe Belgique in Gravenstraat and seeing an image that I immediately associated with Melbourne, and ‘home':

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Quite a while ago, I had heard that there was a large wall in Fitzroy that Everfresh were going to paint, outside the Black Cat nightclub. I know this wall well, in that I drove past it every day for two years, on my way to work. It was like any other wall in this semi-residential, semi-industrial area: tall, brick, occasionally tagged, occasionally billpostered. But now – now it looks quite different… I guess the painting happened during the several weeks that I was ill with the dreaded whooping cough earlier this year. At any rate, I didn’t see any of the work being carried out, but one day when I drove by – there it was: quite wonderful. ‘Welcome to sunny Fitzroy':

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The car parked next to it gives you a sense of the wall’s scale and size. The artwork that completely covers it is an intricately designed homage to Melbourne in general and Fitzroy in particular. The fact that it is painted in black-and-white (and shades of grey) gives it a startling prominence amid the naturalistic colours of the street around it. It looks like a frame from an old film, somehow transported into the everyday ‘real’ world, located as it is opposite a petrol station and a row of terraced houses. It  also manages to showcase the distinctive styles of the artists who worked on it (for example, by incorporating some of their signature images within the letters that comprise the words) within the overall sense of a single coherent visual style. It’s such a huge work that it’s hard to photographically do justice to all the complexities within it, but here are some examples.

A section by Rone:

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And one by Meggs:

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And here are a few more, just for good measure, because the work is so great:

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In this last image, you can really see the brickwork under the paint, a reminder that underneath there is a rather drab wall, now transformed into something which embodies the very idea and spirit of Fitzroy. Which is what Everfresh is all about, really.

You have been invaded….

To coincide with the about-to-open show at Lazarides’ Rathbone Place gallery in London, I thought it was a good time to post this little homage to the wonderful Invader.

For those of you who don’t know Invader’s work, Invader is a French artist who makes and remakes small mosaics of the ‘Space Invader’, star of countless video games in the 1970s.

I always think of Invader’s works as occupying space in the street very quietly: due to their smallness, they tend to be unassuming and easy to miss, often placed high up on a street corner, or in some hard-to-reach location. (I’ve written recently about the appeal of the small – have a look here).

Once you do notice them, they have great appeal: as mosaics, they have an artisanal quality that provides a nice contrast with the low-culture evoked by the video game referent.

On his website, Invader repeats the trope of ‘invasion’ in another way, so that cities become sites to be invaded by the artist and his mosaic tiles. It’s obviously a militaristic metaphor, and one which is often used by the opponents of graffiti, who see illicit imagery as something which ‘invades’ a previously ‘clean’ wall. It’s one of the great things about Invader’s artwork that it can pinpoint the hysteria that underlies anti-graffiti rhetoric, for here, indeed, are the fearful ‘invaders’, and it has to be asked, who could fail to love these little mosaics?

In addition to his dedicated work in invading (to date) 40 cities around the world, in recent years, Invader has also  had a number of gallery shows. I’m unsure how successful his work is in the gallery setting, but it certainly draws a lot of strength from fine art movements such as Pop Art. For me, Invader is at his best in the street, and so, while I recommend that anyone who is in London over the next month takes a look at his gallery show, I wanted to pay tribute to the enduring charm of the Space Invaders that can be found all around us – in the streets. I believe that Invader has been busy adding some new works to the streets of London in the last little while, so keep your eyes open for those. But for now, here are some of my favourites.

In Amsterdam:

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In Shoreditch, London:

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Not far from the Tate Modern, in London:

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In Rothsay Place, in Melbourne’s CBD:

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Just off Alexandra Parade, in Melbourne, a very faded example:

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In SoHo, New York City:

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Enjoy the show, if you get to see it at Lazarides. But, even better, enjoy the streets if you are lucky enough to have been invaded!

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