“There’s more to Melbourne than this alley…”
- One man mumbling to another, Hosier Lane, August, 2009
Cool, cluttered and collected, Hosier Lane is one of Melbourne’s most obvious attractions. But unlike many of the city’s hidden or long-reaching laneways, Hosier provides an easily accessible example of how the council allows Melbourne’s minds to wander.
Framed at the Flinders Street end by the minaret of the Forum and lined with piss-addled doorways, the majority of the laneway’s allure arrives from its seductive sangria of street art: cartoons, shrooms, vampire faces, Brixton briefcase, girls, monsters and ninjas, laughing skulls and skeletal hugs. The lassoed layers of filth, tags and rags providing an uplifting array of stories, rhymes and lullabies to paralyse.
The art inside Hosier is part of the skunk works that is Citylights projects; an initiative run by Andrew Mac designed to corkscrew the concrete jungle into a series of street level canvasses fit for free public viewing.
The majority of the artwork is commissioned and/or approved by Citylights, with one of the key elements being the light boxes which are updated approximately every ten weeks. Due to the gonzo nature of graffiti, unauthorized work often appears, but that’s partly the point – without it the lane would be rat trapped and shackled. Citylight’s hard work in Hosier has earned the lane a reputation as one of Australia’s most important cultural attractions.
Halfway along Hosier is Rutledge Lane; a surrealistic Super Mario shoot off that sucks in the soul through a cluster bomb of creativity before cutting them adrift at the opposite end of the laneway. It is here that you find Until Never.
As an additional component of the Citylight’s process, the Until Never gallery regularly displays work from emerging underground artists located all over Australia. The theme is loose, experimental, conceptual, and never cut from main cloth. Until Never is open Wednesday-Saturday afternoons.
Hosier’s only bar, Misty, is one of those all-look and no-touch kind of rooms. Enticing, playful and teasing from the outside, slightly underwhelming on the inside. Tapas joint, MoVida, fills the laneway with saccharine scents of Spanish verandas, and with its señorita artwork, the restaurant and its speed freak kitchen adds a little light to the dark end of the street.
Weekends commonly see the laneway saturated with sound and fury: hot rods running and gunning their engines, drag queens fumbling with cell phones, street carp giggling in leather, bass notes rumbling from rooftops. The lane never tires, never ceases, always advances, always unleashes.
There may be more to Melbourne than the life that lies living and breathing in this alley, but for a newcomer it’s the starting gun for a sprint through the artistic side of the city. A way to engage and acquire, a direction to point and shoot – a tourist’s hand rail to hades, if you will.
One ugly day some greedhead might cunningly decide to glass off the daylight, brick up the entrance, charge a fee for exhibit and gain riches from canned free expression. Until that day, Hosier Lane will continue to marvel.
Reviewed: August, 2009