Zart Extra Term 3 2016 Lou Chamberlin

If These Walls Could Talk

If Art is a universal language, street art is a visual conversation. There’s a saying “if these walls could talk” - well some in Melbourne’s laneways can.

There are quiet tête-è-têtes between an unknown artist and the passersby in out of the way places; there are open dialogues between artists who work alongside each other near railway stations and there are virtually roaring crowds in well-known locations such as Hosier Lane.

Street art is an art of its time and place. It’s urban, immediate and often short-lived. It contributes to the urban identity of our cities. Sometimes it’s highly visible and sometimes it’s discreet and hard to see. Whether it is a painted wall or the installation of a 3D object, it changes its environment and is in turn given meaning by its context. Sometimes it comments on current events or politics or social issues. Sometimes it challenges cultural myths and explores identity, the media and popular culture.
It can be a voice for the politically motivated or the disaffected, but it also speaks our everyday language and doesn’t always have a meaning or a narrative - it can simply be eye candy.

Documentation is an important element of street art. Because it may be tagged or buffed tomorrow, capturing it in its urban context is important to its ‘longevity’. I’ve been lucky enough to develop my interest in Melbourne, a city where street art is not only tolerated, but is generally enjoyed and encouraged. I’ve learned to navigate my way around the inner suburbs without getting lost in the cobblestone alleyways. Some days the thrill of the chase can be very heady.

Melbourne is home to many artists of international standing, such as Rone and Adnate. With artists of this calibre, it’s easy to see why Melbourne is home to one of the most energetic street art scenes in the world. It’s been my pleasure to prove this true over the last ten years. Whether it has been photographing the monumental walls on buildings in the CBD or tiny installations in hidden alleys, it’s been a labour of love. It’s impossible to imagine how this genre will develop over the next ten years but I’m looking forward to following its growth.

Lou Chamberlin