As I walk through Fitzroy, my favorite neighborhood in Melbourne, I see endless laneways and buildings around me covered in beautiful graffiti and murals. The city is brimming with life and character, something I’ve been missing in Sydney these last two and a half months.
Although living in Sydney is a dream, I’ve definitely been feeling a lack of art in my life. Whenever I walk through the neighborhoods of Surry Hills, Paddington, or Newtown, the streets are completely void of street art and graffiti, photography and art galleries are scarce, and the overall vibe of the city is beachy rather than cultural.
Coming to Melbourne this weekend, my cravings for art and culture were finally fulfilled. On my first day, I went to the National Gallery of Victoria, where I was blown away by the different exhibits. In the first room I went to, Ron Mueck, an artist inspired by mortality and the complexities of the human body created 100 individual human skull statues, somewhat similar to the Paris catacombs that I visited years ago. In another room there was the Yayoi Kusama Exhibit… Yayoi has been working as an artist for over 60 years and her installation, titled Flower Obsession, traces back to the hallucination she had as a child, where she had an image of the entire universe covered in red flowers. The exhibit consists of an apartment on the ground floor of the museum, and each visitor is asked to place a red flower sticker somewhere in one of the rooms, so that by the end, the space will be obliterated with the flowers. Another favorite exhibit of mine was “Manga Chairs”, by Japanese designer, Nendo, all inspired by manga comics. As I walked around the room, each silver chair was completely unique and intricate, with speech bubbles, symbols, and designs.
Not only was the museum incredible, Melbourne’s street art is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. A simple walk through the neighborhood to go get coffee or find a thrift store turns into an open air art gallery. My love for graffiti began during my year in Israel. Everywhere I walked in Tel Aviv, I kept seeing band-aid images painted on the walls and decorating the streets. For a long time, the band-aids decorating the city were a mystery to me but I kept asking people until I found out that an Israeli street artist named Dede was responsible for them. After he finished his service in the IDF, he began displaying his art around the city, reflecting on current events in the world and using the band aid to symbolize overcoming difficulties and seeking remedies for them.. Ever since then street art has intrigued me, and I loved that while many cities go to great lengths to cover it up, Melbourne takes so much pride in it. My favorite street of graffiti was Johnston Street, in Fitzroy where every square inch of the walls were covered in tiles, poetry, and colorful portraits of people. Ivy wove its way down the buildings, and the windows were stained-glass.
As I sit in the airport waiting to board my flight back from Melbourne, I feel renewed by the beautiful art I’ve seen, and determined to discover more art in Sydney. With only a month left here, I want to explore every alleyway and hidden street I can, spend my time at museums, and create my own art as well.