"I'm a writer living in the Perth Hills with my relentlessly fun seeking children.
Published February 25th 2017
Street art in the city
Urban Art Walkabout In the late nineties, I was working in Soho, London. I was excited to discover a new type of graffiti springing up, very different from the scrawled obscenities and gang tags that were the norm. It appeared virtually overnight, on blank walls and buildings across the city. This new graffiti was political, it was satirical and it was beautifully executed in complex black and white tableau's, often in stark contrast to its surroundings.
The artist was called Banksy, my housemate knew him. He was living in a squat in Shoreditch, there was a party there on Saturday, I could go with him If I wanted to. He said the police never caught Bansky, because he cut all the work into stencils before he went out with his cans. I never got to the party, but I think this was about the time I fell in love with urban art.
Giants at Leederville
Art for All There are artists who believe that art should not be in galleries, that the very action of putting an artwork into a gallery, separates it from the populous, segregating it from the people who need it most and rendering it part of an elitist group.
Street artists put the work back into the hands of the people with an immediacy and access, that no gallery can match. Urban art is open 24/7, the backdrop of weather and seasons constantly change around it and humans lives interweave with the spaces it inhabits. Street art is passionate and I want to share it with you.
Heath Ledger by Vincent Fantauzzo at The Backlot (pic streets of Perth)
Make Time You can easily book a street art tour in Perth, there are plenty of them that will tell you the history and bustle you around in a hurried group, but I think the first time you see the urban art of the CBD, it needs to be on your own terms. Give yourself the luxury of reacting to something, without being told what to think, or looking at everyone else's reactions. Art is personal and emotive and I think best appreciated when you have time to spare on your own. Pack up your preconceptions and follow me around the city on a little day trip. It's self-guided, so take as much time as you need.
Art with teeth
Walk on the Wild Side Bring your water bottle, your camera and an open mind. There are three main areas in this article, that I guarantee you will love and opportunities to eat, drink and shop along the way (you've saved some money on an organised tour, so spoil yourself). Remember that urban art is fluid, it changes with society, so be prepared, you never know what you will find. You can find the latest art on 'Streets of Perth'here, some of my choices are not on their map yet, but it's a handy way of finding new works as they appear.
Toastface to Forrest Place
Our tour starts at Toastface Grillah. I'm making no apologies, it's a walking tour, you're going to need a great cup of coffee and an awesome toastie. This venue, off Barrack street in Grand Lane, Perth, is sitting slap bang in the middle of the cities largest 99-metre long mural, 'Owls' by Victorian artists Scottie Neoh and Hiroyasu Tsuri, better known as Bonsai and TwoOne.
Take in Art with your Toastie
Cityscape When you have taken it all in, along the length of the laneway there are other works, like 'Alice and Wonderland' and Chris Nixons, 'Cityscape'. When you have licked the last cheesy morsels from your lips, it's time to leave Grand Lane and go back onto Barrack Street.
Detour Down the Alley Here you could make a short detour to see some funky neon murals by nationally recognised artist Drew Straker, by walking up the hill and turning left into Murray Street, where you will find them in an alley near Mr Bun Cafe. Then, simply walk back to the point you left Grand Lane. Otherwise, just continue down Barrack St, turning left onto Wellington Street, heading towards Forrest Place.
Secrets of Grand Lane
Boutiques to Big snakes
Poetry and Sculpture
In Forrest Place, you will find a series of granite slabs containing a poem by the author Robert Drew. The poetry line was commissioned to give a greater meaning to the area, when it was redeveloped in 2012.Forrest Place is great for people watching. Stop for a few minutes, take in the space, have a look at the giant, million-dollar cactus sculpture, then go back out onto Wellington Street and continue heading in the direction you were going.
Street Art at 140
Almost immediately on your left you will find a green patch of grass and a fabulous mural by Vans the Omega and Beastman. This is going to take you into the back entrance of 140. This is a sleek, funkadelic space, that blends bespoke retail shops, art, quirky bars and eateries all in one sweet spot. Now is the time to squeeze in a pastry or a beer, maybe a spot of shopping and enjoy a variety of street murals from Phibs and Kyle Hughes Odges, amongst others. Whilst the names might not mean anything to you. This is a wonderful place to see first hand how street art influences modern design, to create dynamic and energetic spaces for people to enjoy, work and live.
Seeing the light
Large Scale Snake
When you've explored all the little nooks and crannies, it's time to exit near the Perth underground entrance, onto the busy Murray Street mall. Now you're going to head right, up the road, crossing William Street. Stay on the right side of the road here, until you get to the Wilson Street car park. Here you can see a megalith of an artwork by the world famous ROA.
Snake by ROA
This huge meticulously detailed snake towers above the street and dwarfs many of the surrounding murals. ROA is a street artist from Belgium, whose intricate and startling pieces featuring native animals are truly stunning and like many urban artists, he's a little bit mysterious too.
From the Moon to the Wolf
Howl at the Moon
Now retrace your steps.When you get between the Moon and Sixpence pub and the Comfort Inn, Cross the road on the opposite side you will find Wolf Lane. It's a tiny alley that looks a little grubby, but follow it down, within are precious jewels of urban art, that will both delight and amaze you.
Complex but Lovely
There are murals dotted everywhere between the maze of small bars and passageways, some are huge commissions, the products of artists dangling from cherry pickers, whereas some are so small you might miss them entirely. Every medium is here, spray work, stencils, acrylics and paint, in all different styles, beautifully created, a chocolate box of street art.
Seahorse on Wolf Lane
Wolf at the Door
You can appreciate some outside art at the Cheeky Sparrow bar, while you enjoy a drink and some delicious pizza. Here you will also find another one of ROA's wonderful beasts. If you prefer, you can go next door, past a strange looking boy in wolf's clothing, loitering over the Wolf Lane Bar. Go inside and you will find more murals in a fairytale style and afternoon cocktails served in a teapot.
Huff and Puff
Enjoy the View
It's up to you how soon you make your way back. Both of these areas have spaces where you can sit and watch the world go by, or just stare in wonder at the vivid explosions of an artist's imagination and why not, because in street art, you are both curator and audience. The street is your gallery. This work was created for you, it wants to say things, stir your soul, challenge your views and the best thing is it's absolutely free.
Thanks for this fabulous article. I have been in Perth for 2 years and have stumbled upon some street art but I am keen to discover more, so your article will both assist me and inspire me to search out more.