Ephemeral Street art ~ A Melbourne Story

17 May

Yesterday, Worker’s didn’t give a rat’s in response to yet another work, by Banksy, being destroyed in Melbourne. This echoes an earlier destruction of a Banksy work in 2008 of ‘The little diver’ as found in the following news report; The painter painted: Melbourne loses it’s treasured Banksy.

Today I’m sharing another artwork that has been ripped from public view by another international artist. Her name is Alice Pasquini. Click on the link to her name and explore, you wont be dissapointed.

This time the position of the artwork is not as high profile and I doubt the story of the STOLEN artwork will make front headlines. However, my discovery of the dissapearance of this work occurred on the same morning that the destruction of the Banksy work was reported. This resonates quite strongly in my imagination. It stirs feelings and debate amongst people, you only need to follow the comments feed on the stories reported in The Age to realise there is much division on the value of Street art.

My position on the situation is very clear. I love Street art. It brightens my day by providing me/the public with an urban gallery. It slows me in my tracks as I travel through the day. I stop, notice, stand back, move in close. I look at the details and take in the environment. I discuss the pieces with passers by, strangers and share moments that otherwise would not have ocurred… I document what I find and share on Instagram with an international audience delighting in the art of the streets.

I regularly pass by the Alice work and take delight in the enjoyment of the gift the artist has bestowed on the streets of Melbourne. I first photographed this work about six months ago in the suburb of Northcote, Melbourne. The artwork was in an obscure street, lined with warehouses amidst other streets of suburban houses. There were two works contributed by Alice and both were on Metal doors.

The first photo is the photo of the work that has been stolen. The second photo is of the artwork that still remains

Now there is only one work left as the metal door of one of the artwork above has been taken off. Someone has STOLEN the artwork. The only remnant of the artwork’s existence is the orange/yellow paint splash on the left.

This raises the concept of the ephemeral in Street Art and this is part of the reason I love Street art so much. The idea that one day an artwork can dissapear produces a desire to find artworks and see them, to share them. At the same time there is beauty in ephemera as the work fades with time due to the elements of wear and tear. The glare of the sun can dull colours, the glue of the paste-ups becomes affected by the rain, sun, wind cycles and slowly portions of the paste-up begin to unstick, fall off or wither away. This type of ephemeral I have decided to term as natural ephemeral. It is the artwork interacting with the elements. It transforms in it’s environment unaided by human’s. It shows how an artwork can evolve in a street setting. I walk past works often to observe the changes and have come across the beauty of a work as it seemingly becomes part of the brickwork in this natural process of change. This is the ephemeral nature of street art I love.

However, in the world of Street art there is another and more destructive form of ephemeral. This includes the destruction of artwork, as depicted in the news reports on the Banksy artworks, the stealing of artwork as has happened to the work of Alice, and the tagging, pasting, or painting over artwork.This ephemeral produces disdain, anger, disappointment and incomprehension. It is this ephemeral that is always difficult to reconcile.

Whilst this has documented a somewhat ugly side of Street art in Melbourne, and even the world, I am grateful for the tenacious nature of the artists and their passionate pursuits to colour the world of the streets for public view. I am very fortunate to be living in a city, that can sit proud amongst other cities as having a very healthy and prolific street art scene. It is wonderful to have so many talented artists contributing that are both homegrown and international. I can never thank the artists enough!


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5 responses to “Ephemeral Street art ~ A Melbourne Story

  1. andBerlin

    May 17, 2012 at 8:15 am

    I love AliCé’s work so I’m disappointed that less people will get to see it in Melbourne. Unfortunately, I think Street Art is becoming a victim of its own success. As more artists exhibit in galleries, more people are aware of the value of their work and see an opportunity to make some money. Or a way to own a piece of art without paying. It certainly seems here in Berlin that particular artists are targeted.

    • Preprint

      May 17, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      I have no issue with the Street art being in gallery spaces as well as urban spaces. It s great that recognition of the artform is growing. However, in urban spaces the notion of art for all people is the element that makes it even more appealing. effectively stealing, defacing or destroying an art on the street is not only stealing from the artist but stealing from the people too.

  2. andBerlin

    May 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Phoenix

    May 19, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Hi – Phoenix here. I’ve had a bit of experience of what you are talking about here – and have been exploring these same themes in my street works. I love the Alice Pasquini pieces around Melbourne.
    I’ve had a lot of pieces (probably two dozen or so at least) which have been souvenired around Melbourne (because they are often what I call plaques – solid mounted pieces where the pasteup is on a solid backing and glued to the wall with silicone – which can be prised off the wall if not protected by its inaccessibility).
    Regan Tamanui (HaHa) put the whole issue of people souveniring stuff: in his early days, he would stencil stuff on cardboard and leave them in alcoves etc. People would find them and take them home. In other words, his stuff would find a good home – on a wall or mantlepiece somewhere – where hundreds of people can see and appreciate it. He’s always ready to give stuff away like that: now he’s off on his international tour – sponsored by a couple of street art patrons – and will probably start earning some serious, well-deserved money from what he does.
    I look at it that way – and don’t really mind about the things I have put out there being taken or trashed or buffed. There’s always a new idea and new piece in the ongoing body of work. Just make more art – you are evolving as an artist all the time.
    I recently returned to the Little Diver site in Cocker Alley and reprised my Little DIver ReSurfaced there. You can see the set of photos on my flickr site.
    I also have an ongoing series, EPHEMERAL, that plays with the ephemerality of street pieces through their exposure to the natural and human elements. That all came out of people questioning my quasi-restoration of the Banksy stencil – saying that street art is ephemeral – and should be ephemeral. All I can say is: Who says?

    • Preprint

      May 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks Phoenix,
      ephemeral is certainly an interesting concept in street art and probably part of the fascination I, and many others, experience in our love of everything street art.

      The story about Regan Tamanui souveniring his work is quite an amazing story, thanks for sharing it. The idea of placing a work out there to be taken and being in acceptance of that is very zen indeed!

      … however, I can’t help but feel disappointed when people do take an artwork away. Alice Pasquini’s artwork was on a metal door, and in the end was easily prized away… It did stay in this position for about six months and I suppose that is longer than most gallery exhibitions… but the emotional response to the work being taken is still there. Somehow, the photo I snapped of her work has become a prized photo for me now. When I look at it now it is endowed with a different emotional state, memory and story, as if this poor replica is all there is… Well for me that is all there is now and every time I pass by where it was I have that sheep just looking back…


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