Melbourne’s Hosier Lane is known for its iconic street art and graffiti. Earlier this week, the walls underwent a makeover when guerrilla painters descended on the murals with fire extinguishers and weed sprayers.
Caught on video, the painters have been subject to much scrutiny from both the wider public – namely tourists – and authorities. The Victorian Police described the incident as “vandalism of artwork” and an “attack on the street art… that forms the fabric of the city of Melbourne.”
Hosier Lane underwent a makeover when a number of alleged ‘vandals’ painted over the murals in a matter of minutes.
The state police have launched an investigation into the vandalism in an attempt to catch and charge the masked figures that were involved. Yet, it brings to light the old question of what is considered street art and what is considered graffiti.
All of the murals that existed before the lane was subjected to this ‘graffiti’ were illegally created without the permission or approval of the building owners, yet were considered – and acknowledged – as works of art by both the Victorian Police and Melbourne’s mayor.
Could this be because of the flock of tourism and consequential benefits that the lane brings to Melbourne’s hub? On Instagram alone, Hosier Lane attracts a huge following of over 150,000 hashtags, in comparison to traditional destinations like Melbourne Zoo or Federation Square. As a result, it isn’t uncommon for businesses to profit from the influx of visitors, with guided tours or photoshoots a common occurrence.
Is this recent makeover of Hosier Lane just another act of street art, or the vandalism of an iconic part of Melbourne’s art culture? Remember that art is meant to provoke a response and here we are, with thousands of people in uproar.