Pic credit: Metro Gallery

If you thought that all that graffiti along the train lines was just kids wasting time, being destructive, you are just soooooo last century. This is art, baby, art.

Well, that’s the point of view if you’re a street artist/graffiti artist/urban artist – whatever you want to call yourself.

“Those kids tagging (leaving their signatures along the train lines) are creating their identity, and they’re learning such skills as can control,” one street artist told me recently. So tagging’s the street artist’s equivalent of the schoolkid’s ‘Goz woz ‘ere’ engraving on trees and desks, I guess.

Excitingly, Melbourne is currently hosting the only Australian exhibition of US street art poster girl Swoon (yes, they all have nicknames, as the same guy told me, who wants to sign themselves ‘John’? Mind you, with a real name of Caledonia Dance Curry, she’s got plenty to work with here.)

Swoon has been doing paste-ups in the US for the past decade – that’s where she’ll draw or block print something on paper and stick it up on a public wall, as opposed to getting out there with the aerosol cans. Her work is lyrical, feminine and very beautiful. In the gallery setting, it was sprinkled with gold and layered with stencils and paper collages. Much of the work was already sold before the exhibition opened, with the gallery’s minions hopefully wielding red spot stickers. And to prove there’s money in art, the most expensive piece (at the time unsold) was priced at $25,500.

She turned up in jeans, sneakers and a white painted singlet with a bumbag (yes, really), while Jeff Kennett, who I accidentally banged into, looked positively unhip in his suit with a floral-clad wife in tow.
Get in quick, the exhibition runs till just 3 March at Metro Gallery, 1214 High St, Armadale.

And if you’d like to see more Melbourne street art, click here for a pix from a walking tour I did recently through the CBD’s laneways.