Melbourne’s Street Art: Union Lane

Union Lane Street Sign Melbourne Bumble Bee

Melbourne is the art capital of Australia, but what most visitors don’t realise is that there is also a side to Melbourne’s art culture that is often mistaken for vandalism. Melbourne holds the reputation for having the best street art in world and attracting both local and international artists to contribute to the growing scene. Walking through the city of Melbourne, or suburbs on the city fringe, it’s hard to miss the ‘graffiti’ which lines the alleys. From stencil work to poster art, or perhaps ‘instillations’: although some may look down on it, the fact is that though it will continue to change and evolve, it is there to stay.

This is the first post in a short series of the best lane ways to find street art in Melbourne.

This is one of my favourite poster art posters. It’s a guide to where the city street art ism disguised as PacMan!


Union Lane Melbourne Victoria Australia Street Art Political Graffiti Afghanistan Nutcracker

If you look closely a outline of Afghanistan is in the nutcracker

Combining different styles of street art, I found this particular piece to be one of the more interesting in Union Lane. Combining instillation (the cut-out of Afghanistan and the hand with the arrow saying ‘force’ are both cut-outs ‘installed’ there) and what appeared to be a wheat paste image of the nutcracker, this piece was a thought provoking political piece. It causes the viewer to question its intentions and think about what it was communicating – “Why does the creator think Afghanistan is being cracked?”
As I walked further a long the lane way I came across this piece which put the other into more context. (Sorry for it’s small size!)

Hard Nut to Crack Afghanistan and America Melbourne Street Art


Melbourne Victoria Australia Cassette Graffiti Art Union Lane

Union Lane is a laneway off of Bourke Street, also known as Bourke Street Mall, the main shopping strip in Melbournes CBD. The lane way is approximately half way between Elizabeth St and Swanston St, next to the Jetty Surf shop in Bourke Street Mall.

Google map union lane street art graffiti melbourne victoria australia

Note: The nature of street art is that it is constantly changing. Whilst these pieces were viewable when I visited in July 2011, when you visit they may have been painted over.

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  • Reply
    May 4, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Great pictures, and picks of the art at the time. Ever changing, as you have mentioned.

    Love the nutcracker and the cassette tapes! These artists are so clever!

  • Reply
    jennie spaghertti
    July 18, 2013 at 9:28 am

    hay I from Singapore and this melborune art is very fantastic I need come here and take fotos

  • Reply
    Phoenix the Street Artit
    August 13, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Hi Nicole
    I’m Phoenix – the creator of the HARD NUT TO CRACK piece in Union Lane. In answer to your question as to why the creator thinks Afghanistan is being cracked: Afghanistan is far from being cracked; the Nutcrackers – the US one in the primary role, and the Soviet and British ones in the bin of history to one side – are the ones being cracked. The point being that Afghanistan is too hard a nut for any of them to crack.
    This piece also was interesting in terms of the capping (spraying or painting over) and tagging: although it was sprayed over by one of the many spray artists who repaint the lane almost daily, the solid plywood relief plaques that made the main elements of this piece meant that you were still able to decipher some of its meaning despite it being coated in spray paint. Not long after you took this piece, it was tagged with “F**k Off, Art Fag” – demonstrating that anything different to the usual conventions of spray graffiti – and especially anything with any political, conceptual or spiritual meaning – is often hated upon with prejudice.

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