photo friday: r.i.p topham wall street art gallery

topham wall street art gallery - spray girltopham wall street art gallery - twelve

Topham Wall Street Art Gallery
Rest In Peace
April 2011 - May 2012

The Topham Mall area reserved for street art was closed down on Monday... and the painters moved in, buffing everything back from a riot of colour to bland, institutional beige.

When I first heard about it I thought they were just doing a cleansing buff... giving everyone a clean canvas to start again... but no, because of issues that frankly sound somewhat bogus they've revoked the rights to add legal street art to the area.

Espionage Gallery owner Joshua Smith said it best when interviewed by the newspaper earlier in the week:
"I feel as if a mate has just died to be honest," says Mr Smith. "Due to a few people being rebellious and "sticking it to the man" an entire wall is shut down to legitimate artists."
The longer this whole story has gone on, the angrier I've gotten about it. Actually both angrier and sadder.

topham wall street art gallery - shape and colourtopham wall street art gallery - brideoake feather

Firstly there was supposed to be a "replacement wall"... which turned out to be two boards clipped to a chain link fence... that's not a replacement, hell, that isn't even a wall. And I was really annoyed that they figured that they could just "move" the area down to the skatepark on North Terrace, because clearly the inference was that "kids who skate are vandals and do all this graffiti stuff so we'll just move it down there". Not one of the street artists I love and follow is a teenage skater (no offence to any talented teenage street artists who are also skaters, I'm just not familiar with your work).

I also can't help but think that really the genie is already out of the bottle. The council is going to spend a lot of time repainting due to people tagging on them. There will also be the issue of the people who would otherwise have tagged or painted on those walls who will now paint/tag other, more out of the way, less appropriate walls.

It's another example of the council trying to do something but not doing it terribly successfully. All of the walls that they identified as being free for street art have had problems. There was the wall by a 24 hour Hungry Jacks that could only be painted on outside of business hours... and even Topham Mall was a problem because the space was so incredibly small. Nothing was able to last very long and works that should have been given space to exist for longer were painted over because there wasn't any extra room for new work.

topham wall street art gallery - pink dripstopham wall street art gallery - topham silver

Think of Melbourne's laneways... specifically Hoisier Lane... it's a large area, but the artists have gravitated into certain zones... large scale pieces end up at the Federation Square end, paste ups and stickers have naturally moved up towards the Flinders Lane end and tags are much more common "around the back" in Rutledge Lane. Then consider that that's one, rather sizeable laneway amongst three or four that I can think of off the top of my head.

We had one side of a stretch of wall that was less than 100m long. And they wondered why tags were spilling onto adjoining buildings.

While I know that the council probably don't own it, plus it's always locked behind giant gates, there's an area on the other side of Topham Mall that would be perfect... or the Solomon/Kingston Street backstreets on the other side of Currie Street.

Or better yet, do what they should have done in the first place, and talk to some of the "elder statesmen" of Adelaide Street Art to work out where would be great places for it. But give them actual SPACE!

And it makes me much less friendly towards the Council and it's future endeavours... and I'm not even an actual street artist, just a very enthusiastic fan.

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