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The Painted Canyon

The Painted Canyon. Amongst its many treasures Melbourne boasts something that no other city can claim. Something that encompasses an eclectic mix of peoples from all walks of life. The largest gallery/open air urinal! Truly a marvel of human ingenuity. Where else can you befriend your bladder and knock up a conversation with somebody close by, not too close, about a cutting satirical commentary or a cuboid “graff” Mona Lisa rendered in spray paint. Hosier lane and it’s a accomplice in grime Rutledge alley form a meth affected letter “D” stamped into the cement and brickwork of the city. Together they create a painted canyon backwater that attracts 5000 slack jawed people a day, to see and smell what’s new to hit, spray and dribble the bricks. But it wasn’t always so. In the 1920s Hosier and its conjoined parts formed part of the rag trade precinct. The name “Hosier “stems from this. However given that the Australian communist party headquarters were located at number 3, “Stalin lane” could have gotten equal billing. With the advent of plumbing and the aerosol can, things were to change for Hosier. The lane now hosts 3 main concerns, Movida restaurant ,Misty bar, and youth projects “the living room “drop in center. All three and the lane itself manage to lure an incredibly diverse section of society, all in a narrow cobble stoned alley way. Garbage collectors who make sure the city’s arteries don’t clog with aerosol cans, rumbling down the cobblestones in the wee hours. Chemically impaired party people in various states of dress and undress. Suppliers to the restaurants plying their trade of unpronounceable goods with a nudge and a wink making you wonder what exactly is inside those banana boxes. The suit and ties mixing with the high vis crowd in a silent truce between Yakka and Armani and of course the “Graffers”. Without whom this project could have become “The life cycle of navel lint.”

3.00am a solitary figure staggers from the shadows. Breaking stereotypes, most “users� encountered here politely asked for their faces not to be shown.

The stage is set and a fresh backdrop painted. Waiting for a new set of actors and dramas to grace the stage that is Hosier lane.

Its’s all rubbish, to the people who pick up after the night before. Largely desensitised to the spectacle of Hosier and Rutledge, they ensure the public are mostly unaware flotsome and jetsam that accumulates in this painted canyon.

A 23 meter portrait of a aboriginal boy greets the dawn. Overlooking “Birrarung Marr” an Aboriginal site,“Adnate” was commissioned by “Hosier Inc”,a group of residents, artists and people from the street art community, to create his biggest work to date.

At 8.00am sharp, Colin Hudson opens “The Living Room”. Concealed under countless layers of paint,”The Living Room” is a primary health care service for homeless and disadvantaged people. The only one of its kind in the CBD.

The big rush as early morning preparations are made by restaurant staff. Feeding the hordes that visit this backwater has seen Movida rise in popularity.

Squeezed between Flinders St and Flinders lane, Hosier forms a vital link for the 5000 people that pass through it every day.

Where contrasts meet, Hosier an Rutledge lane are like a magnet for people from all walks of life.

“Enjoying� a stroll through Hosier,

a bridal party finishes a photo shoot.

What you see today maybe gone tomorrow as new crews “throw up�fresh works in rapid succession.Making the experience of entering Hosier unique, for photographers and the public alike.

1 size does not fit all, when it comes to why people are drawn to the laneway

If it doesn’t move its fair game for the business end of an aerosol can.

Chill time out side “The Living Room� drop in center. Many people meet here to exchange information or just relax from the pressures of the outside world.

Lacking in years but making up for it with enthusiasm an art critque surveys Hosier.

Creating a spectacle for the public, crews mount the walls knowing the higher the work the longer it lasts. Safe from the less committed “taggers� who roam the ground level.

Getting into character,

before starting on a piece,a young family demonstrates the diverse nature of the crews that spray the laneways.

Melbourne University fine art student “Goodie� finds a strong sense of community amongst Melbournes lane way artists.

First time collaboration for Chucks crew on “Fishy Face”

Only having used spray cans twice before,

“Rose� known for her incredible attention to detail in pen and ink successfuly transfers her concept into a stunning reality,one fish scale at a time.

Chuck Mayfield Graphic Designer by day, finds Hosier and Rutledge lane a great way to showcase his work.

Artistic differences of opinion are not uncommon. Theres always another wall, another laneway.

Alarming to tourists unfamiliar with their humour, some graffers exploit gang culture to pass the time.

Tucked away from the cities hubbub Misty and Movida provides a paint spattered sanctuary for its patrons.

In the “Bunker� Sous chef Shane Kenny has a unique perspective on the dramas that unfold in Hosier.

Time out for Shane. The popularity of Movida guarantees a hectic pace for the 3 year veteran.

Working till late in the evening ,Chuck finds a blank spot, and clambers skyward to fill it. Scissor lifts are used on commisioned work but seldom on the non paying jobs.

After a tip off police search Rutledge and Hosier. Various sub cultures claim the laneways as their own. Being out of sight from the main street, makes them an attractive proposition.


Many thanks to all the people who endured my lens. The staff of Movida and Misty.

Colin Hudson of “The Living Room”

Chuck and the crew,(”Goodie and the “Georges”) “Trish Oc “ and crew “Robert”

“MIA Josephine”

The Painted canyon  

24 hours in Hosier Lane

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