You’re terrible, Mural,  a Melbourne Arts Club report.

Words – Kate Forsyth

Photos – J Forsyth

We all know someone who gets it entirely wrong in the attire department. And I don’t mean bad taste fashion errors such as dad’s penchant for polar fleece vests or dodgy Ivan the Admin Manager with his short sleeve shirt/ tie combos. I’m talking about the woman who wears a tight sequined dress to the office, the wedding guest wearing white or your goth cousin at Nan’s 80th.

Ain’t nothing wrong with sequins, white dresses or gothing-it-up, as long as it’s in the right context. Sequinned dresses are for nightclubs, Miss Universe pageants, Sydney Road evening wear boutiques and drag queens. Not the office.

Out of context, the dress is an abomination.  The same can be said for any person who is NOT the bride, but decides to wear white at a wedding.  As for the goth, make old nanny happy for the day and wear a twin set and a smile.


Context. Life is all about context. Take Harold Bishop out of Erinsborough and put him in Alf Stewart’s Summer Bay diner and the world would tip on its axis.

More on context. Inner city life means there’s approximately 0.1 percent chance you won’t get a glimpse into aspects of your neighbours’ lives. You’ll;

  • Hear their music (thanks for all those years of Celine Dion, number 76).
  • Get wind of their domestics (middle aged guy, you really shouldn’t have paid so much attention to your wife’s friend) and screaming kidlets.
  • Note their transportation movements (parked in the laneway again, 4WD douche)
  • Spy their purchases (tofu, whiskey and a swingset?).

Minor privacy breaches and peeks into one anothers’ lives are to be expected. But let’s say you blasted Slipnot on a Sunday morning while you scramble eggs. It’s out of context and WILL make your neighbours spastic with rage. Hearing Sunday morning music is not cause for a neighbourhood dispute dirty enough for A Current Affair to air with the title, “Neighbours from hell; you won’t believe what these hoodlums have done and it could HAPPEN TO YOU”, but the type of music and the volume you choose to play it early on a Sunday is the key. Sunday music is calm and nice and inoffensive. Sunday music is not Slipnot, is out of context, and may cause Tracy Grimshaw to appear on your doorstep.

Why this little education in context and what has it got to with ART?  I took a little walk around Brunswick to take in her sights and sounds. Specifically, the street art and murals around almost every corner, in lanes and adorning the walls of businesses, homes and factories, so that I may report on this for Melbourne Arts Club and The Bird Press

A source from Moreland City Council who wishes to remain anonymous because it sounds mysterious and therefore cool, also alerted me to a new mural. So off I went to visit Brunswick’s art o’ the streets on my own little walking tour. I even packed a snack and water in my BACKPACK.


Starting on Victoria Street, I wandered and saw loads of great street art. While graffiti was once a sign of a neighbourhoods’ decline, it’s now an indicator that you’ve found your way into a cool part of town. In Brunswick, the murals, street art and graffiti art gel with the terrace houses, partly run-down aesthetic and vibrant mix of people and cultures. I skipped along seeing many a great example, even if some were not exactly my cup of tea.

Then I went to Sparta Place. You may’ve been there lately. Maybe you parked the car at the back, grabbed a coffee at Tres Espresso, visited the wedding stylist or one of the clothes stores. If so, perhaps you saw a new artwork on the back wall, called ‘Brunswick Kind’. It’s a Moreland Council-commission featuring three famous Brunswegians – Turbo Brown (previously profiled in The Bird Press), Fred James (AKA Cocoa Jackson, the namesake of Brunswick’s Cocoa Jackson Lane, where my bestie and I once almost rented a house, purely because our address would be so rad) and Florence ‘Dot’ Cheers.


According to my anonymous source, a local artist painted it; famous Brunswegians, affixed to a concrete wall by a Brunswick artist. How very local.

Moreland Council’s commitment to art and culture is commendable, and the combination of art and history to create a sense of community and local identity is lovely, but style-wise, it doesn’t feel like Brunswick at all. Ludicrous, you may say, considering I previously mentioned the vibrant range of people and culture in the area, but I do not tell a lie. Please do note, it’s technically well done, nice and very detailed, but feels out of place.  ‘Brunswick Kind’ might be better placed on the side of the library, where its civic-ness would fit nicely.

Turn yourself 180 degrees and you’ll see a great example of street art. Walk 100 metres and see another that suits the area superbly. In this case, council commandeering walls for art seems like a failed experiment. Commandeering walls also flies in the face of street art, which pops up unexpectedly and livens up a place. It’s not permanent – which is enticing because next time you arrive at your local haunt, something else might have replaced it. You might love it or hate it, you might even see it being created, since street art is less cloak, dagger, balaclava and under-the-cover-of-darkness than it once was.


Who am I to say what is good street art and what is bad? Hmm, well I just deputised myself with an Art Sherriff’s badge which gives me the power to willy nilly bandy around opinions masquerading as fact. Good street art fits the space and place. Bad street art does not. But I challenge you reader; pack your backpack with water and snacks, put on your Jerry Seinfeld runners and take an art walk around town. Decide for yourself and curse me if you disagree. Or if you enjoy saying swear words. Good day.