Street Art

There was a story in one of the local newspapers a couple of weeks back about a visiting dancer and her impressions of Melbourne. One of the things she highlighted was the street art and, to illustrate her point, she had her picture taken against the backdrop of a piece of art by Taylor White in a Fitzroy street.taylor-white-46

That’s just a brilliant piece of work, I reckon. (And that’s not the dancer sitting in front of the doorway, it’s the artist, I think.)

Most Fitzroy back streets are characterised by the period in which they were originally constructed and by the buildings that flank them. The back streets are narrow, befitting a working-class neighbourhood built laid out and developed some 150 years ago to house the workers employed in the nearby factories.

The Fitzroy back streets are even narrower than the Collingwood back streets just a few miles to the east, which was surprising to me since Collingwood is as proud of its working class heritage  as Fitzroy, and not exactly known for its wide boulevards.

The boys in the Taylor White artwork are up to no good one of them is feeling glum ‘cos he’s been left out of the action. One boy has a homemade slingshot built of sticks and what looks like torn bed sheets. Another has a toy gun, or rather just another stick that vaguely resembles a gun. It’s handle is also wrapped in strips of bed sheets and you wonder whether those sheets are still covering the boy’s mattresses and they’re in for a hiding when their mums find out and they eventually come home to face the music.

Their eyes are shrouded, I don’t know why, but it adds to the mystery. Their clothes and haircuts suggest times long gone and while Driver and Punter (life-long friends in Fare Game) roamed the streets of neighbouring Carlton many decades after these likely lads, they share more in common with them than they do with today’s kids. That’s not a criticism of today’s kids, by the way, rather its a wistful reflection on simpler times gone by. Yep, I’m getting old.

Taylor White is American and she’s left Australian shores, I gather. That’s a shame for us, but since one of the defining features of street art is its temporary nature, her departure is in some ways consistent with that. Another artist will come along and new works will appear, although you can only hope art of this quality doesn’t get spoiled by tags.

Until then and even afterwards, it’s no small pleasure to turn a corner and have the opportunity to appreciate street art of such quality.

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