Union Lane is like a middle child of Melbourne Street Art that possesses all its stereotypical syndromes. It does not receive as much attention as its big brother Hosier Lane, whose elegant bluestone-cobbled laneway gave him an envious outlook and a revered status. A long narrow laneway tucked in between fancy shopping malls, glittering arcades and mega-retail stores, it is easy to walk past or overlook this unloved child without realizing its presence.
Union Lane is a resentful and frustrated kid, the “loner” in the family that could not conform to social norm. Vague urine smell lingered consistently. Visitors grimaced in annoyance. Some refrained from showing any hint of emotion in case they inadvertently offend the egoism of this “under-achiever”.
Union Lane is a neglected kid that strives to gain its self-esteem by its inherent creativity and ability to “think out of the box”. Despite the sometimes dazzling sun reflections and their dancing “ripples” on the walls, visitors who squint hard enough at the artworks are often surprised to discover little gems and treasures.
The paintings are daring, bold, and original. The butterfly-like creature that stared at you with mysterious gaze, the mischievous queen (or was that a girl with ostentatious hair accessories) in black and white, the abstract solemn face with purple stripes, an assortment of graffiti amongst those masterpieces of serious art. It is a mural of indecipherable meanings; a giant canvas yelling to be decoded, yet remains “uncracklable”, like a powerful password that securely locked away its impenetrable secrets.
Union Lane is audacious, independent and a quiet achiever. It is a talented middle child who longs to be acknowledged despite its not very glorious façade.
(Photos taken in March 2016)
Off Bourke Street, between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets