Tag Archives: Marrickville

Street art – suitable for children!

As street art has evolved and become more mainstream, a new audience has been found – the kids who live in the areas where artists strut their stuff.

And rather than covering their darlings’ eyes to protect them from the scribbles of taggers, the profanity and the inexplicable, savvy inner city parents are exposing their children to street art, to kickstart their creative development.

Street art has begun to feature in children’s books, and school holiday art programs are likely to incorporate a street element. Wilkins Public School in Sydney’s Marrickville recently had street artists Akisiew, Bafcat and Jumbo create giant murals on the school entrance and library. A bit further west, Dulwich High is a new Visual Arts centre, where street art heroes like Skulk run workshops for the next generation.

stripey underpass

Areas where street art is prolific are dense and accessible, so there’s always lots of people taking in the art, on informal and formal walking tours. (The idea for our first book came while pushing our sleeping newborn along Marrickville’s graffiti-rich back streets, and now other parents take their kids on treasure hunts to find the Stripey Street Cat.)

Why not plan a walking trip yourself? Take your time, get lost, discover something nobody else has seen. And go back again and again, because it will all have changed, that’s one of the great beauties of street art, its immediacy, and its confrontingly short lifespan.

Bring your camera, and bring a camera for the kids – they will amaze you with their different perspective on the art.

Here’s four of the best family friendly street art hotspots in Sydney and Melbourne for you to check out on foot, and some honourable mentions:


Newtown, Enmore, Marrickville, St Peters

This area showcases the diversity of street art… murals and paste ups and tags, elaborate pieces, and minute stickers and sculptures. It has a great mix of legal and illegal work, by artists like Akisiew, Hazzy Bee, Fintan Magee, Birdhat, Ears and Skulk, and stencils like The Stripey Street Cat, Pissing Boy and monstery.

sydney newington ears and skulk

Start at Camperdown Park in Newtown. The cemetery wall, featured in The Girl Who Made Rainbows, features works going right back to the late 80s. Then check out the famous Martin Luther King mural on King St. Station Lane hosts the Akisiew/Hazzy Bee masterpiece “The Birds of Arkansas”. Walk west to see a cluster of spectacular murals on Phillip Lane, the ever-changing walls at the corner of Enmore Road and Newington St, and the Live to Create mural on Scouller St.

sydney akisiew and hazzy bee

Stop for lunch at the family-friendly Vic on the Park, which has a huge street art wall out the back, where you might even see a work being created. Then head east on the 308 bus from Marrickville Metro to May Lane at St Peters, one of the best legal street art sites around (and it’s opposite Sydney Park, if the kids need a break.)

sydney mays lane

Regent Street, Redfern

Among the emergent retro stores and new cafes, muralists Bafcat and Jumbo have created a series of imaginative and beautiful pieces. It’s not far from Redfern Station, and you can loop back via the Australian Technology Park with its fantastic old workshops and machines and dimly lit cathedrals of columns and archways.


An honourable mention to the large legal wall at Bondi Beach, which is updated regularly, and has the advantage of being near a skate park. Oh, and Bondi Beach.


CBD Laneways

Melbourne’s lanes are the jewel in Australia’s street art crown. Almost anyone who is anyone has pasted, sprayed, drawn or scribbled in its filamented ecosystem. I’ve seen a Banksy, a paste up dedicated to Aboriginal cricketer Eddie Gilbert, and ”Bill Henson can’t paint” graffiti. Miso made her name here with elaborate paste ups that tore at the heart, and Be Free’s pieces always achieve a perfect, poetic synergy with their settings.

melbourne lane

Amongst the service shafts and garbage compactors, Centre Place has nooks and crannies full of visceral pieces, great places to eat and shop, and possibly the most breathtaking 100m of urbanity in Australia. Degraves St always has a new paste-up or two. Hosier Lane is one long mind-blowing canvas, of colours and layers and competition over style and place. Union Lane is a fantastic canyon where new artists often come to show off their stuff. And there’s about another 30 laneways with street art and cool shops and cafes.

melbourne union lane

The grid of streets either side of Brunswick St are replete with works, especially around Rose St – you could combine a trip with a visit to the Artists’ Market on weekends. Clever pieces take advantage of the walls and poles and hydrants.

melbourne fitzroy lane

On the east side of Brunswick St around Argyle St, there are fabulous pieces on fences and buildings, their grittiness thrusting against the quaint bluestone pavers. Along Johnston St toward Collingwood, there’s a cluster of studios, giving birth to impromptu installations and pasteups, and pop up cafes and bars.

About the author

 Peter Warrington is half of Not Quite Newtown, publishers of street art photography books for kids. Check out the crowdfunding campaign for the latest offering “you make the dreams” – featuring Akisiew – at http://www.pozible.com/project/187175


All photos copyright Rachel Williams, Not Quite Newtown


The Pitts of the world!

One of the great debates that keeps urban planners and designers in fine loafers and Sonoma bread is whether to mall or not to mall. Whether closing off streets to traffic and encouraging pedestrian access boosts retail and other economic activity, increases social connectivity in that area, generally providing an explosion of urbanity.

The evidence is often limited. There are examples that show malls work, and then there are the ongoing debates about places in Sydney like Parramatta and Hurstville.  Shut the road. Open it to buses. Open the road. Shut it again, maybe just for some hours of the day. Let a bit of traffic through. Whinge, come back again in 12 months and do another study. And on it goes.

The mall boosters, and broader proponents of pedestrianisation and limiting car and bus traffic, often look abroad to places that are medieval in design, where squares and plazas have shaped urban living for 1000 years. There are principles that we can adopt, and examples we can emulate. But implementation without context is just imitation.

My view is pseudo tipping pointy – if a town is gonna boom, then a well planned and located pedestrian zone will flourish and may be “the icing on the cake”. Leaving aside the equity issues of which retailers and property owners benefit, this is a good thing. If we protect the other economic elements of the centre – the ability to access it or service businesses in it, THIS IS A GREAT THING!

But I also think that the relationship between calming and activity can be overstated. Some of Sydney’s more popular eating and shopping strips are far from calm. They work best when traffic slows, such as at lunch, evenings and weekends (clearways and bus lanes lead to faster traffic at other times). I walk these streets, often, and often with a pram. All of the dodgy footpaths and stop starts and broken pavers and missing kerbs are nothing, because there is somewhere to go at the end. I always vote for urban domain and activity as the best way to boost walking, over meandering paths along creeks and through parks. There is a reason that Marrickville residents walk more that just about anywhere else in Sydney – it’s interesting. Shops, street art, activity, clutter. Other people walking. Dogs. Kids. Planes. Trains. And food.

All of this is a long intro into a small rant. I walked through Pitt St Mall in Sydney at lunch on Tuesday. This is Sydney’s alleged golden mile – about 200m long, anyway – of high level retail and walkers treated as GODS. It’s recently had a very expensive makeover, and I will admit the new Centrepoint connection and the underground grungier retail works pretty good.

But it’s as lifeless as Andrew Lincoln’s acting (thanks James for that one.) There were about 100 seats placed around trees – of course, these are now the haunt of the remaining smokers who work in the area. I’m not kicking an addict when they’re down, but the air quality is dire. The worst thing is there is nowhere to eat. A global city. Temperate climate. Lunchtime. Pedestrian heart. Famine, where there should be feast. It’s unbelievable. Not sure how, whether there is any causal link to leases or property ownership.

But you can head into one of the retail complexes and find a food court with tens of food outlets, then either sit there away from the sun and air, or head back out and recreate a scene from a live gig in the 80s, cheer, cough, splutter.

The solutions are simple, I think. Chuck some cheap tables in the Mall. People will learn to walk around them. Encourage local cafes and restaurants and small laneway bars to find a way to do outdoor table service in our biggest and best laneway. I’m no fan of Brisbane, even though some of my best friends are from there, but their Queen St Mall heaves with bars and cafes on a warm Friday afternoon.

While I’m at it, I would extend the Mall south to Park St and north to at least Martin Place and possibly Hunter St. That would help spread the pedestrian activity over a larger area, making the Mall more about walking and talking and eating, rather than just shopping at a few, select retail outlets. The City, however, seeks to create a new world-class boulevard along George St. At least the re-introduction of light rail into George St and the rejigging of bus routes and traffic means something can change in Pitt St without crippling the rest of the CBD.

Then I’d attack Hyde Park. The prolific greenspace that abuts the City’s eastern edge is great to look at but suffers from the same listlessness. At select times of the year, we discover it’s a great place to sit and eat or have a drink. Festivals rule in our town. But for 300 lunchtimes a year, there are two very small cafes at either end and a great big void in the middle. Get another cafe in there. Or food vans parked along Park St. A business opportunity for picnic hamper providers – sheesh, our local cafe Petty Cash can set you up to have a nice picnic in Enmore Park.

The ultimate might be to connect Hyde Park to the city, by closing Elizabeth St to traffic including buses at lunchtimes, encouraging existing food outlets to claim the roadspace for tables and chairs, give people on the eastern side of George St somewhere to sit. And eat. And think. And blog.

What do you think? What works where you are? Where do you walk and why? What’s your ideal lunchtime food scenario?

The last word goes to one of the most underrated bands, with an underrated song from a killer second album. As Chrissie says, “you’re the Pitts of the world!”

Thanks for reading.