The emergence of the magnificent murals and dedicated walls for street art in Adelaide have been tied into the ‘vibrancy’ mandate, which is really just a pseudo-sexy buzz term for politicians and policy makers. When you consider that the histories of many the artists that have delivered our now prized splashes of colour to concrete were based in illegal activity, there are still many who question why a curated picture on a building is suddenly a trend?
Well, there are two answers to that question, as Glam discovered during some painstaking research into this guide (Google worked damn hard, we sat and had a beer). The first answer is that local policy makers have implemented a framework to essentially ‘curate’ street art. This, in part, removes the spontaneity and vagabond practices of the artists and also, at least at this early stage, adds permanency to certain works, thus negating some of the clandestine rivalries for public space that were previously feuded over by local crews.
The second, and perhaps drier answer is that public amenity and economics are a marriage made in heaven. A great explanation of what this means can be found in the 2013 short film ‘Who Owns The Street’. Clocking in at just over 12 minutes, it’s a worthwhile watch as it helps to explain how street art has only recently evolved into a celebrated part of our urban environment. It also touches on artist motivations and the pedagogy of tagging and how it forms the basis of what is now largely considered art.
But that’s only if you want to delve a little deeper. The crux of it all for the layman is that it’s hard to escape the utter beauty of the works you can now see across Adelaide. And we think it’s best you become familiar with the artists behind it all:
Peter Drew (@peterdrewarts)
Locations: All around the CBD
Across Adelaide you can still find paste-ups stating quite plainly ‘Real Australians Say Welcome’. While this particular campaign has catapulted Peter Drew’s reputation internationally as an activist, he’s been using our streets for many years now to highlight issues and foster debate that he believes aren’t given enough critical thought. He’s an artistic agitator by nature, and a damn fine one at that. He has also played a role in some excellent locally produced YouTube series exploring different aspects of art culture and documenting Adelaide’s streets, though the Art Vs Reality series is especially outstanding.
Vans The Omega (@vanstheomega)
Locations: YHA on Waymouth St, Lady Burra on Topham Mall, Pitt St & Twin St
Another internationally renowned local and a part of the TMD Crew who were originally founded in Auckland. Commissioned by cities around the world, his roots were firmly established in traditional graffiti and a love of letterforms but ancient scripts, architecture and nature amongst other influences have formed him into an incredibly versatile and precise artist. Most noticeable around our CBD and suburbs are his giant murals that are often feature close friends as their subject. But he is by no means to be pigeon-holed and if you take the time you’ll also find geometrics patterns and letterwork with his name on it. You have most definitely seen his work on the Glam Adelaide Instagram account.
Joshua Smith (@joshua_smith_street_artist)
Locations: Little Rundle St, Kent Town (Collaboration with Sair Bean)
Former owner and operator of the now closed Espionage Gallery space in Rundle Mall, Joshua has been nominated twice for the Stencil Art Prize (formerly Australian Stencil Art Prize) and has been exhibited around the globe. His love of complexity of cut outs and layering has recently evolved into creating intricate miniatures. But the most beautiful thing about Joshua, aside from his artwork, is his passionate championing and support of local artists.
Lisa King (@artoflisaking)
Locations: Jive Bar, Hindley St & Minima Hotel, Melbourne Street
A self-taught artist who has a history in arguably the more traditional mediums of work, the most striking feature of Lisa’s recent murals on Jive Bar and the Minima Hotel along Melbourne Street are the eyes of her female subjects. This realism, complimented by her striking use of colours and pattern work make her work immediately recognisable. Not to mention her amazing new mural dedicated to Bowie, we already can’t get enough of that one!
Locations: Jive Bar Carpark, Hindley St, Topham Mall & Hall Court (off Waymouth Street)
Heavily influenced by Japanese culture, Toy Soldiers crew founding member FredRock operates local gallery ‘The Space’. About four years ago the carpark behind Jive Bar was blank, or at least two tone from council workers painting over existing works. This is now his curated space and features one of his most eye-catching pieces – a massive Octopus emblazoned with the parched title Davey Jones’ Rocker.
Matt Stuckey (@befriendly)
Locations: Ebenezer Pl., Topham Mall Carpark & Sym Choon Lane
Owner of multi-disciplinary creative agency Befriendly, Topham Mall’s UPark and Ebenezer Place both feature commissioned works of colour which saw Matt come to know the movements of a cherry picker all too well. But for me, his work along Sym Choon Lane on his old studio offices that really catches the eye.
Kab 101 (@kab101ism)
Locations: KAB101 Lane, Prospect & Franklin St
This gentleman has a laneway in Prospect named after him, which is a nice touch considering his 30 plus years of adorning local walls with what can only be described as utterly captivating indecipherable scripture as a signature aspect of his artworks. When I first saw Kab’s work as a teenager, I wasn’t sure if there was a hidden message and that sense of wonder has always followed me wherever I have seen his work.
Makatron – VIC (@mike_maka)
Locations: Rhino Room, Frome St
This Melbourne based, internationally traveled artist is responsible for the rhino on the side of, and you guessed it, The Rhino Room. From a distance, you might not notice the subtle blending of beast, machine and the urban landscape. A subtler piece is his classy frog on the side of the Koreajung Restaurant. It’s the details that draws you in.
Lister -QLD (@anthonylister)
Locations: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Pitt St & Zhivago’s Laneway off Currie St
Brisbane born but Sydney based, Lister was charged with graffiti in 2014 literally as CNN America prepared to film him showing them around his home city. If there’s a better story to illustrate the varied and transitional perspectives on street art, I don’t know it. Simply looking at his work out back of Her Majesty’s Theatre, it’s understandable why conventional perspectives have so rapidly changed in support of such work.
Adnate – VIC (@adnate)
Locations: Leigh St
The massive scale of his portraits draw from an appreciation of the chiaroscuro (the treatment of light and shade) from renaissance painters like Caravaggio. The gaze of his subjects appear focused and intense, evoking the sense you can understand what they might be feeling. Heralded by the Metro Gallery in Melbourne as ‘Australia’s leading contemporary artist’, the AWOL crew member has left his mark just off Leigh Street.
Beastman – NSW (@bradeastman)
Locations: Topham Mall & Udaberri, Leigh St (Collaboration with Vans The Omega)
The geometric patterns and colours of Beastman’s work are instantly recognizable for their positioning of eyes and teeth. Sought out by brands across the world, his style is similar in part to Vans The Omega which has no doubt contributed to their collaborations over the years.
Jimmy C – SA, Now Based In The UK (@akajimmyc)
Locations: Rundle St, Kent Town
Recently came home to take part in the Little Rundle Street Art Project from his base in London. His murals have been commissioned by the London Olympics, and he’s exhibited in the State Gallery, which is non too shabby for an artist who is also recognised as an outstanding tagger. His unique, self proclaimed scribble-painting style is now visible in a hidden corner of Rundle Street in Kent Town to office workers who probably don’t realise its significance.
Check out our map to get more of an idea about where you can find the art. And you can also have a look at the below map of street art, murals and graffiti around Rads put together by Nigel Dobson-Keeffe back in 2013. Although it’s a few years old, the sites still remain! Want a closer look? Just head here.
I could continue, but we don’t want to overload you at once. Across Adelaide you can find work from the likes of Leah Grant, Sair Bean, Piano, Joel VDK, Fletch Cuts, Mark Circus, Marnie Wark, Tyler Mario, Hyde N Seek, Grots, SG, FINDAC, Seb Humphries, Jack Fran, Tarns, Tayla Carlaw, Fin Dac (UK), Cold Crush, Ankles and my personal favorite 10tkl. And that barely touches the edges of the number of artists who are out there doing their thing. The Adelaide Fringe has provided a fantastic walking trail for those who would like to explore first hand which you can find here.
To complete the experience, there are outstanding dedicated pages like Adelaide Street Art and It’s A Jungle Out There which you can spend hours trawling through. The sheer quantity of work featured on these sites should give you a clear picture of why we simply can’t include everything. It’s fair to a state that Adelaide’s appreciation for street art has started to come of age.
Photos taken by Ryan Winter (unless otherwise stated).