Like a secret meant to be kept, the entry point of Presgrave Place looks too ordinary with no hint of any impending surprises. Hidden within a lane branched off from the Little Collins Street, this melancholy-looking dead-end alley gives no clue of any uniqueness. It is sad and sticky, with rows of boring restaurant ventilators emitting greasy odour, dirty commercial wheelie bins forming unexcited queues, and a few locals nonchalantly puffing cigarettes while gazing vacantly ahead. Yet like a mischievous prank well played, a group of artists cheekily installed a collection of eccentric assemblages and framed artworks there, discreetly displayed on one side of the wall, waiting for unexpected wanderers to chance upon the artsy discovery.
Here, we can find Mikonik’s signature stenciled portraits on jigsaw in its inimitable pop-art style, alongside the various hand-drawn and paste-up faces by 2b/bsc/bsc basics in its plain but iconic form. The abstract geometrical arts by artsakebyscott, the serious lines by Sunfigo, and the harmonious shades of colour by luv [sic] shared a space on the eroded brick wall, adding a modern sense of coolness to the kaleidoscopic backdrop. Tinky’s miniature Mona Lisa was attacked by two soldier figurines, whilst his plastic red army launched a siege on the fortified gallery of art.
It won’t do Presgrave Place justice without mention of the controversial Kranky and his art installations ranging from the partially eerie to the downright gruesome kind. Think bloody Barbie dolls, hideous rats and deathly spiders. There were also footprints left behind by unknown artists in the form of yellow crocheted jellyfish and miscellaneous decals or paste-ups.
My personal favourite is the framed illustrations of semi-circular faces with hint of exaggerated oddness done by the prolific Alice Rex. The paintings are deceptively innocent and spellbindingly sweet, like some distorted scenes of fairy-tales went wrong. From time to time, curious thieves ran silent rampages and carried away pieces of art, leaving trails of vandalism in the process. Alice Rex’s masterpieces were, unfortunately, one of those aesthetic objects targeted constantly by the nighttime Ninja, disappearing without a trace for too many a time.
Off Howey Place, between Elizabeth and Swanston Streets, just south of Little Collins Street