Melbourne’s Famous Street Art Lane Covered in Blue Paint in the Name of Art?

As we’ve previously written HERE, street art in Melbourne, Australia, has come a long way since the days of “zero tolerance” where street artists were considered vandals and fines and arrests for perpetrators were commonplace. As Melbourne’s street art culture has evolved and street art has become a major tourist attraction for the city, however, local authorities have begun to recognise the craft and some have even looked at ways to support the moment.

Probably the most well known “street art sanctioned” zone is Hosier Lane and Rutledge Lane in Melbourne’s CBD (read about Hosier Lane HERE). You can walk up and down these lanes at any time of the day or night to find both street artists putting up new pieces and observers with their iPhone in hand ready to capture that perfect photo.

We were therefore shocked and amazed to stumble across Rutledge Lane on Sunday to discover artist and street art campaigner Adrian Doyle in the process of covering Rutledge Lane from top to bottom – including all of the street art, tags, bins, road and all – in blue paint.

Images above thanks to Khoon Sorasiri.


The following images are courtesy of David Russell from Invurt

“If he’s supposed to be supporting street art, why did he do it” you ask? According to Doyle’s Facebook page, it was all in the name of art. Doyle called the project “Empty Nursery Blue Laneway”, and you can see a small essay he prepared about the project at the bottom of this blog.

In response to a number of anonymous online comments condemning Doyle’s actions, Doyle encouraged artists to head down to Rutledge Lane and start painting on the new blank (blue) canvas.  And it didn’t take long either, with pieces being thrown up before the blue paint even had time to dry…


Above artwork by Snowy. Image by @hanstent


Above image by @hanstent


Above image taken by @trashort


What do you think? Was Doyle’s project an act of selfishness or is it simply part of the street art culture – here today, gone tomorrow?

And if you’d like a piece of street art to hang on your own wall, check out the street art currently for sale on artFido HERE!


From Doyles Art:

Today piece was not a buff….. it was a burner.. Hell yeaH… 

Empty Nursery Blue Lane Way… 
By Adrian Doyle 

Houses are a major influence on my aesthetics and imagery. Most of the important events in my early life were focused around our quarter acre block in the heart of suburbia. We had an outback toilet, complete with its own dunny man that came every week to change the bucket. We went through numerous above ground pools and sadly, many pets. My house was not really different than any other suburban house. Yet it was my world for many years, a curated world, in which I learnt social skills and perceived normality from my parents. 

I watched from a very young age as my parents struggled with house payments and debt collectors. They worked so hard to pay the bills and bring up 5 kids. They worked in jobs they hated with little respect from their bosses. They married in their teens, and did all the expected norms and learnt behaviour passed down from their parents. The house was a symbol of their hard work. 

This experience made me reflect on my childhood home, and the hold it had over me, my family and my art. When my parents eventually lost the house to the bank, my parents moved four hours away to a small cottage in East Gippsland. But the grief and pain followed them. I began to play with the idea of creating a colour that represents my childhood and my suburban experiences. Was it possible to create a colour that could capture that kind of experience?

So I decided to come up with my own colour. I named it: Empty-Nursery Blue

The way I decided to create Empty-Nursery Blue was by sitting in the studio and creating hundreds of different blues until I found the one that expressed my experiences the most. It was a baby blue that had hints of mauve in it. It’s a beautiful colour, a bright pastel. This colour expresses the feeling that something has been disturbed. All is not quite right. I took my disturbing yet beautiful colour to a paint lab and worked out its recipe. 

But what good was Empty-Nursery Blue, if it was without a context. I needed to find something to paint to physicalise the concept of the colour.

As mentioned above, after losing their house, my parents moved to an island in the Gippsland Lakes. It’s a significant removal from the realities of suburban Frankston. Their house is alone in the landscape, only bushes and trees to keep it company. Not even a bridge links the island to the nearest shop. This physical removal from the past does not automatically come with emotional removal.

This is why I decided to paint my parents’ new house Empty-Nursery Blue.

Empty-Nursery Blue once placed in context became a symbol of a collective past. Surrounding the new house with the memory and emotions of an experience that ruptured my family’s suburban dream.

In recent years I have spent much of my time lost deep in the Melbourne Street Art world. Street art has become a major part of my life and the lane-ways have become my world. I have lived and breathed art all my life. My art, however, is conceived of and formed from my past experiences. I cannot exist today without recognizing my roots in the past.

Thus, I would like to incorporate my past and my present in a Street Art piece using the colour Empty-Nursery Blue, and only this colour. By using Empty-Nursery Blue to cover Hosier Lane, I am symbolically ‘coating’ my present with my past, it is reminder to me and anyone who is living, that you are a product of your former experiences, and you should be reminded of them as you work your way through your present and into your future. By doing this, I am claiming that a colour in its pure form can be street art or graffiti. This is a great conceptual link from fine art to street art, a link that is often lacking in the Melbourne Street Art scene. By bridging this gap, I hope to expose more people not only to Street Art, but also to the importance of art in general.

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  1. Lazy art. There are so many lanes in Melbourne, but why Hosier lane? Permission and recognition. I get a point, but it’s still arrogant and dismissive of all other artists. The fact that the blue is painted over now is immaterial – it was supposed to be painted over. If he was serious he would have pulled the stunt inside the NGV – that I would have liked.

    At least Christo was non-destructive. Apart from the woman killed by the umbrella, but that was a sad accident

  2. Wow, get over it. I don’t particularly like the work or concept, but this is street art – it’s temporal. It gets painted over. It’s not sancrosanct. That’s one of the things that I love about it. No one gets to treat it like it’s an investment piece (except a Banksy). I understand there are protocols about who paints where and over what etc, but at the end of the day what you put out there will fade and get painted over at some point so accept it. Otherwise go back inside the gallery. Will anyone protest at the blue paint getting painted over?

  3. Two things come to mind. Yet another example of the the mindless worship of the less than mediocre that fills so many TV hours these days. Also is it yet another example of the attitude : I can do anything I want regardless of who it affects or upsets. Who the hell allowed him to do this. Worship of arrogance.

  4. This is worse than someone taking a painting that they put their emotions into, and painting over it with their own work and presenting it as their own.

    I don’t agree with this Artist defacing others work at all. They put just as much, if not way more time and effort into the art they left behind than he did by spray painting everything blue. As for his reasoning, fine, but don’t do this at the expense of others.

    Selfish, egocentric and mean.

    But, he got what he wanted.. his 5 minutes of fame. Hope he doesn’t get caught out in the dark by one of these angry artists..

  5. This could be the best expression yet of Concept Art-A category apparently established for those devoid of any artistic ability.Somehow designed to accomodate the would be ‘artist’ who lacks talent and skill , with nothing to contribute beyond the narcissism of a nonentity,it is the Art equivalent of suicide. Even the concepts are so pathetic and moronic that Artist Statements are mandated in futile attempts at legitimacy.
    There is not even enough in this for a WANK – It is a complete BLANK.

    1. are you for real man? all art has some form of concept, even further, theres a concept behind almost every human action.
      p.s id mazz down there for sure.
      your a goose.

  6. A+. Aesthetic decision making buzzkills the new conservativism in one fell swoop. Capping is rude, buffing is ruder. Fuck your laneways and drinking out of jars, YOU ARE THE NEW GRAFFITI-ADJUSTED CONSERVATIVE; never second guessing. I hate this kind of posturing (I would have liked it more if it was conducted without a cool story attached) but I love your response.

    Suffer in your jocks.

    Love the buff. All-city buff. Cover it all up; it’s weak and meaningless beyond the territorial pissings of 14 year old boys. Let the 14 year old return at a later date without their stencils, pre-mixed colours, legals & acceptance.

  7. It wasn’t anyones to cover up other peoples works but alyer upon layer they did, now simply because someone decidced to create a flat background for it all to start from (again) people get upset. Won’t be long before it’s all forgotten, until someone paints it red. :)

    1. In my opinion he added to the layered history. In ten years time it’ll be a “remember when….”
      Street art wasn’t about preservation last time I checked…

  8. Well Empty-Nursery Blue has certainly rocked the cradle of the Street Art babies we have become quite obviously attached to. Attachment is the issue we are struggling with here. The Artist of the streets have struggled with letting their artworks hang free and how to preserve ownership when they are painted in a public place. Is it presumptuous to assume that the artists of Melbourne’s Street Art laneways have already set their ‘baby’ free once they complete the work. Preserved only by photographs and film much like the Environmental Artist, Andy Goldsworthy, who understands nothing ever remains the same, everything changes. It is our struggle with attachment causing our suffering and feeling a loss, when really, nothing is lost really … it’s just another beginning.

    1. Rosalie, you leave it until it begins to perish. And you never replace beauty with a mess. Luckily people are going and painting the beauty back in, but that will never recover the original…which I feel had the same colours and could have been painted around to preserve it.

  9. it is a public space but does that give him the right cover up other peoples “past” experiences, what about those that had already put up such beautiful pieces for everyone to see and their reasons for doing so , self indulgence art wank at its worst he is saying he is covering his past, and exposing colour as a form af street art – fair enough I think there is a play for jsut colour to be considered street art, but as an artist myself the disrespect he has shown to other artists is woeful, why not pick another lane to do this is (but I suppose it wouldn’t have given him his 5 minutes of fame and have the same shock value). again just selfish indulgence

  10. What The ?? What is wrong with the man ???? I am certainly not Young but even I concur that the Street art was Beautiful !! That Blue paint is just Woeful……looks terrible !!
    What a shame ! If people are defacing beautiful architecture then I can understand why it needs to be removed but these buildings are just horrible and the street art really beautified it !

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