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Published June 20th 2020
A tour exploring new street art in the fresh air
Stacked Bookshelves Playne Street (near Frankston Library) Frankston Artist: Brigitte Dawson and Melissa Turner (Melbourne Murals)
With lots of regular tours not back in operation yet I was pleased when a friend asked me to join her on this Frankston Street Art Walking Tour. It is certainly one of the first outings I have done in a while since being cooped up due to the COVID 19 restrictions.
The walk felt quite safe as it is conducted in small groups and is all outside. And our guide certainly reminded us all of social distancing and had hand sanitiser at the ready.
The tours which run roughly every fortnight starts outside the Frankston Library and as the tour attended was on a Sunday, parking was a breeze. Not the case during the work week I believe.
There were around 30 possible murals to see on this walk. Many were tucked down little alleyway like the ones in the Melbourne CBD. I won't mention all the artworks we saw as it would spoil all the surprises but I will mention a few that caught my fancy or the eye of my camera.
Surrounding the library were some remarkable Alice in Wonderland artwork by Brigitte Dawson and Melissa Turner from Melbourne Murals. What must have been drab walls now feature all the strange and zany characters from this classic tale including the Mad Hatter, Alice and the White Rabbit.
The walls have been painted Trompe l'oeil style, so it looks as if you can follow the white rabbit straight into a magical world that is also dank and green and filled with ivy.
Another was titled Stacked Bookshelves by the same artists. Each of the books on the shelf referenced Frankston in some way. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay was there because this famous author made the area her home back in 1926 when she and husband Daryll Lindsay moved to Mulberry Hill (they left it to the people of Victoria and it is now a National Trust property).
One title that surprised me was Neville Shute's On the Beach a famous novel that depicted the aftermath of a nuclear war. The Frankston connection came with the 1959 famous film version of the novel. It meant Hollywood coming to Frankston. Even though one of the stars Ava Gardner famously described Melbourne as "the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world." The scene where Gregory Peck meets Gardner, who arrives from Melbourne by rail, was filmed on the old platform #1 of Frankston railway station, and another scene where Peck and Gardner are transported off by horse and buggy, was filmed in Young Street, Frankston.
Smug. Street Art. Glad to ge this photo before they tear down the building. Photo @nadinecresswellmyatt
Another work that really stood out was a work by Smug. I'd seen Sam Bate's work before on walls in Glasgow. Especially his famous work -St Mungo who is holding the 'bird that never flew.' "The bird commemorates the wild robin which St Serf, St Mungo's old master, tamed. It was accidentally killed by some of his disciples who blamed St Mungo. He took the dead bird in his hands and prayed over it, whereupon it was restored to life and flew chirping to its master."
I rather think this piece referenced the same story in some way given the bird and the look of kindliness. But then again street art is always open to interpretation. That is one of the things that makes it fun.
While Smug was born in Australia he is internationally famous having lived in Glasgow for almost 20 years. So Frankston should be proud of having one of his works gracing their alleyways. Last year he was also commissioned to decorate the silos which have become a huge attraction in the Wimmera (see video below). I felt quite incensed when I learned that this Frankston artwork in Park Lane will be destroyed because the building is being torn down. Elsewhere in the world Smug's works are revered and Frankston is letting this one be torn down. All I can say is 'come on Frankston.' And if you are the new owner couldn't you find a way to preserve this work of art?
Another piece with great movement and flow was The Graceful Ascent by Phat1 and Lady Diva who are from Auckland, New Zealand. It was interesting to learn that this couple came out from NZ with their four children for the project.
Being nosey I wanted to learn how much artists get paid for such artworks as they must rely on a certain number of these commissions a year in order to survive.
The guide wasn't sure on the remuneration but could tell me that flights for the whole family were included, so I like to think those children got a bit of a beach holiday while their parents worked on this piece.
Photo Graceful Ascent by Phat1 and Lady Diva- photo @nadinecresswellmyatt
Both these artists are passionate about their Maori heritage. This mural is of the Kōtuku Bird: An important bird in Maori culture symbolising the movement of the Maori people from Aotearoa over to Australia and in particular the Frankston/Melbourne region to settle.
The colour yellow represents the warmth of the sun and its energy - turquoise/blue shades: acknowledging the nearby moana (ocean) and the journey across the water. The Great egret or white heron (Kōtuku) is also a local bird to Frankston. The egret has a very spiritual connection with Indigenous Maori of New Zealand especially around a time of tangi (mourning). So this artwork references those who died or were wounded in Christchurch at the mosque shooting as it affected so many of us around the world.
Another work I found quite poignant was Discover Purple Platypus in Pollution by Mike Makatron in Gallery Lane. When I saw those little fish containers we grab with our sushi it made me really think about never using them again because they might just end up in the sea just like these ones.
Frankston is becoming a centre for street art because of The Big Picture Fest launch in 2018, which brought some of the world's best street artists to Frankston. Now an annual event, The Big Picture Fest has brought increasing numbers of national and international, artists to Frankston, creating this outdoor gallery of more than 30 works for us all to enjoy.
The image below is by PichiAvo a duo of artists from Valencia (Spain). They have painted Epicurus an ancient Greek philosopher. whose philosophy defended the pursuit of happiness as a means of achieving peace and freedom from fear and the absence of pain. From Epicurus has arisen the word epicurean (a person devoted to sensual enjoyment, especially that gained from fine food and drink.) A pleasure we are all looking forward to as our cafes and restaurants open up.
PichiAvo is a duo of artists from Valencia (Spain).
The following images are of other street art I loved during the walk. I do tend to favour works where one must puzzle over meanings.
But for those who like realist work, there are a number of realistic works on the trail, such a scene described in the 1965 classic by Don Charlwood 'All the Green Year'. This novel was loosely based on the author's life of his growing up in Frankston during the 1920s.
The mural above is one we puzzled over. Some of us thought there were images of the beach embedded such as beach umbrellas and sunglasses. What do you see? The thing about street art is that it makes you think.
Tours run fortnightly on select dates including the following dates
Sunday 12 July
Saturday 25 July
Sunday 6 September
Saturday 19 September
Sunday 4 October
Saturday 17 October
Sunday 1 November
Friday 6 November
Saturday 14 November
Sunday 29 November
Friday 4 December
Saturday 5 December
Sunday 13 December
Friday 8 January
Saturday 9 January
Sunday 17 January
Saturday 30 January
Bookings are online or EFTPOS and cash bookings are accepted at the Frankston Visitor Information Centre at 7N Pier Promenade on the Frankston Waterfront.
The Street Art Walking Tours starting point is also only a short walk from Frankston Train Station.