Street art’s economic and social boons
Doyle also runs Melbourne Street Art Tours, giving guided local street art tours led by actual artists.
Prior to the pandemic, those tours would attract around 40,000 guests every year, contributing to the $62 million industry. Hosier Lane alone he estimates, attracts 80,000 people to the city per year.
Street art’s benefits aren’t solely economic, either. Working with Melbourne councils, Doyle has provided street art-based youth work, showing young people opportunities exist no matter their circumstances.
“It is a really great way to show kids that you can have a different life,” he says.
Street art also has another, obvious, benefit. “It makes a place more beautiful, and more liveable, and more exciting,” Doyle says.
“Every city is starting to look the same. But with Melbourne, you can just walk 20 metres off the main strip, and you've got this beautiful art.”
A changing artform
Melbourne street has evolved beyond just laneway painting, with sculptures, installations, and even textile-based street art now found throughout the city.
Korean-born, Melbourne-based artist UB is one of the 80-plus creatives to recently take part in the City of Melbourne’s Flash Forward program, which aimed to reinvigorate the city and support businesses.
For the program, UB produced a colourful, interactive laneway installation inspired by shadow puppets and featuring a light show – not exactly archetypal street art.
“During the daytime people can come and use the magnets sticks to move the puppets around,” UB says. “But at night-time, you can also see the lighting which changes depending on the puppets.”
UB has lived in Melbourne for over a decade but has been aware of the city’s street art for much longer. In a nod to their international acclaim, UB says Melbourne’s laneways were made famous in South Korea s thanks to 2004 television drama, I'm Sorry, I Love You, which was partly filmed in Melbourne.
But even though her latest work can be found in an alleyway, UB doesn’t classify herself as a ‘street artist’.
“This work has happened to be on the street, and I really like it,” she says. “But I think being a street artist is something different.”
“I really think art should be around people in general. So, I think having art on the street is important.”