Top 5 Street Art Graffiti Spaces


By Meghna Bali

Graffiti has always been a dominant part of Australian culture, from Indigenous Australians etching onto walls thousands of years ago, to modern day artists and gangs marking out their territory. Our local street scene has attracted many bold artists who have created provocative, engaging and uncompromising pieces throughout the lanes of Sydney. While Sydney is filled with many interesting graffiti pieces, here are our top 5 spaces to walk through and get inspired.

 

May Lane, St Peters

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Recognised as one of Sydney city’s most interesting outdoor galleries, May Lane is a large scale project consisting of criss-crossed laneways just outside St Peters railway station. The lane showcases a variety of Australian and international graffiti artists and documents distinct street art styles such as spray paint, paste ups and stencil.

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Local entrepreneur Tugi Balog allows artists to paint on the walls of his factory stating, “When I moved to this location, the lane was pretty trashed and wild and I found these guys who claimed the lane as their turf, painting everywhere. I knew they could probably come up with something more interesting or better. So I started to ask neighbours to give us the walls so people can paint freely.

Over the years, May Lane has transformed from a dark, grungy back alley to an unrestricted, colourful space where artists can express themselves and visitors can appreciate the work.

 

Foley Street, Darlinghurst

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Developed by a group of Sydney based artists, the art in Foley Street is an ode to the complex history of the area. Titled “We Are Here”, the project is a self proclaimed celebration of the people who have made Darlinghurst their home and living space. The artworks vary, consisting of paint, collages, mixed media, photography and stencils. The wide range of mediums highlights the diversity of the artists creating the pieces and the contrasting ideas they portray as a result of this.

Almost serving as a time capsule, the lane encapsulates the journey of Darlinghurst and Oxford Street from its difficult beginnings to the glorious present. Curator Juliet Rosser stated that the work “rejoices in the swinging pendulum of its fortunes, from cultural backwater to creative epicentre, from slum to designer living, a place of protest to a place of celebration”.

 

Sydney University Graffiti Tunnel

Photo-by-Brandon-Chen

Perhaps the largest ‘legal wall’ in Sydney, anyone with a fancy to paint is welcome to the Sydney Uni Graffiti Tunnel. An extraordinary facet of Sydney Uni’s social life, the graffiti was initially a consequence of student unrest during the Vietnam War era. There aren’t too many political slogans etched into the walls anymore, with the space now taken up by pamphlets for dramatic productions and music shows, however you may come across some activism once in a while.

Running between the Manning and Holme buildings, the tunnel is lit mostly by artificial light and some natural sunlight and people may paint whatever they want as long as it isn’t offensive. Note that the tunnel does get busy during semester with students walking through, and if you would prefer to visit, photograph or paint in it, earlier hours are recommended.

 

Sydney Steel Road, Marrickville

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Smack bang in the middle of nowhere, this grungy industrial laneway has an impressive set of graffiti art. Hand painted political chants, large scale murals and semi abstract spray paint designs take up most of the space, while an adjacent lane displays elaborately designed tags. While some of the works have been around for years, the stencil work changes from week to week.

 

Bondi Sea Wall

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While Bondi’s ever-growing glamorous persona continues to take the spotlight, it is the spirit of youth alive in spots like Bondi Sea Wall that give his laid back beachside suburb its true vibrancy. The wall has been a colourful celebration of Bondi’s inspiring street, surf and skate culture, with aerosol paint being embraced by Waverley Council since the 1960’s.

An eclectic fusion of old school and new school art, the promenade mirrors Bondi’s leadership in cultural diversity, liveliness and artistic expression. It is here that you can admire some of the oldest Aussie graffiti styles on one of the most famous beaches in the world.

While the space is constantly evolving, a mural that remains permanent is that of Chloe Byron. After her tragic death during the Bali bombings in 2002, local artists led by Droogie collaborated in painting a tribute piece for the young Bondi local, known as the ‘girl with the frangipani in her hair’. Featuring frangipani flowers and a longboard surfer, the mural reflects the beach culture that was central to Chloe’s life and has become a trademark of Bondi’s landscape.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Glebe Tram Sheds

A time capsule of 20th century public transport, the abandoned Loftus Tram Shed in Glebe is one of Sydney’s biggest graffiti locations with an industrial setting the ideal urban playground for artists.

Constructed in 1878, the site was connected to one of the world’s largest tram networks, with around 1600 trams running at any one time during its height in the 1930’s. However, in 1961 due to the post-war boom and consequent rising popularity of motorcars and buses, the station was forced to close down and the tracks were covered up, leaving behind a vintage public transport graveyard.

Today, almost every surface of the station’s interior wears a psychedelic coat of graffiti – everything from artfully composed pieces to sketchy tags, you’ll rarely catch an inch of tram that hasn’t been violated by paint, pen or otherwise.

Today heavy security measures are in place to make it impossible for graffiti artists, photographers and curious travelers to enter this time capsule, though it can be accessed with permission.

 

Inner West Canals

A series of canals criss-cross around and under Sydney’s inner-western suburbs. Although climbing down is not recommended, glimpses of quirky and interesting pieces can be found around Annandale and Lewisham, among countless other locations circling Sydney.

The bare and large spaced, semi-private nature of these canals has allowed artists periodically to take their time which has lead to the accumulation of fascinating characters and writings that stretch for kilometres.

 

 

 If you like our Top 5 Street Art Graffiti Spaces, be sure to check out our Top 5 Hidden CBD Lane.

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Check out our other popular Sydney Top 5′s:

Xplore Sydney Copyright 2014

 

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