On Wednesday night over 1000 people packed a Melbourne gallery for the launch of the new book, Stencil Grafiti Capital. Earlier in the week, an article came out suggesting that the police were going to raid the event and arrest local artists. The crackdown against graffiti and street art in Melbourne is at an all time high, as the City has plans to ‘clean up’ Melbourne for the Commonwelth Games.
The exhibition included a gallery show with framed prints of photos from the book and a street party with images installed in lightboxes on the walls of the laneway.
On March 3rd, the book will be celebrated in Sydney. You can read more details here.
Here’s the article from the Herald Sun:
Graffiti photo book exhibition sparks anger
By Jen Kelly
February 13, 2006
AUTHORITIES are furious over a photographic exhibition celebrating illegal street graffiti, which opens in a Melbourne art gallery this week.
Police have been urged to infiltrate the exhibition’s opening night to try to identify illegal graffiti and catch offenders admiring associates’ work.
The exhibition is also the launch of the book Stencil Graffiti Capital: Melbourne.
Glossy invitations to media depict photos of people in alleys at night spraying graffiti on walls.
Sympathisers often defend stencilling as the artistic end of the graffiti spectrum, but critics argue if it is done illegally it is unacceptable.
Police Minister Tim Holding led the attack.
“Graffiti’s not art. It’s vandalism and it’s something we all deplore,” Mr Holding said.
Residents Against Graffiti Everywhere called on police to go to the exhibition to identify illegal graffiti and offenders.
“It is simply another avenue for illegal activity to be packaged as acceptable,” RAGE founder Steve Beardon said.
Opposition Leader Robert Doyle said all unauthorised graffiti was vandalism and illegal.
“While this subculture is congratulating itself on the proliferation of illegal stencilling, I know the enjoyment is not shared by owners of property they vandalise,” Mr Doyle said.
The book’s co-author and exhibition convener, Jake Smallman, defended both. He said while most of the graffiti featured in the book and exhibition was done illegally, he was doing nothing illegal by photographing it. “I’m just documenting what’s already out there,” he said.
Mr Smallman said he believed it was important to document stencil graffiti on city walls because it was so transient.
His works will appear at the Until Never Gallery and the Citylights light boxes in Hosier Lane from February 16 to 25.
His book has already sold about 1000 copies since its release late last year - including about 15 to music industry stalwart Michael Gudinski.
“While I don’t condone graffiti I think Stencil Graffiti Capital has captured for posterity a very unique art form,” Mr Gudinski said.