In the age of advertising it seems our city walls have become an arena for subliminal sales, but if we glimpse to the side of these target marketing campaigns, there on the same walls are also signs of hope. Colourful reminders that the streets still have soul, and more importantly that they are a canvas for bigger issues, those far greater than beauty products and television programs. Street art has become a medium to discuss the taboo without using words, to push creativity beyond the walls of a gallery or picture frame, and quite simply breathe life into the concrete jungle.
We speak with photographer Amanda Luxmoore, a born and bred Melbourne girl who spends her spare hours negotiating with Melbourne traffic to capture the artwork lining the city streets. Amanda explains why Street Art is the focal point of her work and how the scene reflects our current culture.
How did street art become your primary subject matter?
Amanda: I have been taking photographs for years, mostly landscapes and scenic shots with the occasional street art scene thrown in. About eight months ago I started taking street art photography a bit more seriously. The impetus for this came from a friend who indicated that people were becoming irritated with me clogging up their Instagram feeds with my pictures.
So I decided to dedicate a page purely to that medium so those interested in the art form can follow me, and those that don’t can choose not to. It’s not everyone’s thing just as I don’t need to see pictures of what you are eating for dinner on Facebook, for example. I titled my page @melbourne_urban_art as most of the street art titles were taken.
When did you begin taking your photographic passion more seriously?
Amanda: It was around the time the camera on my smart phone had broken which forced me to start using my Canon DLSR again. In hindsight I’m glad it did. I mean don’t get me wrong, people are taking amazing images with smart phones these days, I just feel like it’s cheating, and I have a much greater range from which to work with using a bigger camera where I can change lenses depending on what I am trying to get from each shot.
Would you say you have to be an insider in the Melbourne Street art scene to get the ‘shots’?
Amanda: I am certainly no expert on the scene in Melbourne although I know what I like and I try to exhibit a variety of graffiti, paintings and larger scale murals on my page. I have picked up a fair bit along the way in terms of who is who and where to find their work. Some of the other street art photographers from Instagram have been the most helpful in terms of assisting me with locations, especially when it comes to new works.
Is it a ‘thing’ to capture the latest artwork ?
Amanda: I am not hung up on having to shoot the newest pieces as soon as they emerge on the street (others are). The reality is I have a full time job so I wouldn’t have the time, besides, just because something is a few years old doesn’t make it less so – and I try to bring a fresh take to all of my photography, whether that is with editing, style, or composition.
How do you define street art, do you have a particular taste?
Street art is definitely more popular throughout our culture than it has ever been. Some old school graffiti lovers would probably refer to me as a snob as there is a lot of work out there that I don’t like. I never post tags or anything that I personally don’t find aesthetically pleasing, but having said that there is plenty of quality graffiti on my page, as well as the larger scale murals. I actively try to post works produced by female artists as much as I can. We have so many talented female artists residing in Melbourne. Some of the best include; Kaff Eine, Lucy Lucy, Baby Guerilla, Goodie, Vexta, and Justine McAllister.
How do you feel street art connects with you?
I’m definitely interested in political street art that contains a message. I think it is a very strong medium to be able to communicate something to a limitless audience. Many artists I love are passionate about social justice issues including women’s rights, conservation or indigenous issues, and they express this through their paintings.
Unlike many other graffiti enthusiasts I don’t ever post images of women that are overtly sexualised. I would probably get many more followers if I did however there are plenty of others filling this space. Besides, there are so many brilliant male artists that are portraying women in really beautiful ways – Camscale, Adnate and Heesco are just some.
Where do you see your photographic journey taking you in the future?
Amanda: For now I will continue to hone my skills as a photographer. I have discovered lately that I also love doing portraits so you never know; I may end up going in an entirely different direction – maybe ‘Melbourne pet portraits’ – (Inspired by her other favourite subject matter, her beloved pug Monty) pretty competitive market though!
For others keen to check out the street art around Melbourne, what are some hotspots you would recommend ?
Hosier Lane, ACDC Lane, Degraves Street, Centre Place and Croft Alley are all well known and documented street art sites in the CBD. But if you are keen to do some exploring, go for a wander through different suburbs such as Fizroy/Collingwood, Brunswick, St Kilda, Richmond, Footscray, Preston, Northcote and Thornbury. There are lots of hidden gems in Melbourne, its just about getting out there and discovering them for yourself, or otherwise on dedicated Instagram accounts like mine.
Artist: Amanda Luxmoore