Although street art is illegal in most places around Australia city councils are beginning to see the benefits of allowing spaces for street artists to use. Melbourne has become quite well know for it’s street art and until recently boasted 2 Banksy stencils.
Where street art used to be seen as a blight on the community it is increasingly becoming seen as an asset. Every day including today you can see tourists and locals wandering the alleyways taking photos. The city council now offers guided tours of these locations for tourists.
As more and more traffic enters these areas they become safer. What were once seen as seedy backstreets are now tourist hotspots and slowly as they attract more and more people the area begins to reinvigorate as cafes and other small business move in to the space.
One of the real challenges for large cities is maintaining that sense of the “village”, the inner heart of the city that contains the street level soul that makes a place truly liveable. Melbourne is like a pirate town in an old Hollywood movie that promises adventure in every alleyway and rewards those brave enough to get off the main promenades and explore the back streets.
People often talk about the soul of a city. With all the redevelopment that has been happening lately it would be easy to think that Melbourne is becoming just another concrete jungle. Urban developers struggle to manufacture cultural spaces and seem to lack real insight into what makes a place really “Hum”. Slick concrete shopping malls filled with glossy displays and ugly florescent lights sit half empty while people cram shoulder to shoulder in to tiny alleyways preferring the gritty street art and the hustle and bustle of life.
If these alleyways around the city have taught me anything, it is that you cannot manufacture “Cool” or that sense of warmth that comes with the adding and layering of human creativity over time. It’s proof to me that humanity not technology makes a place great to live.
I love my home city and I hope that you too will get to adventure in it one day.