MELBOURNE | Melbourne is one of the world’s best cities to visit for lovers of street art. Visitors will gravitate towards the street art hubs of Fitzroy and Collingwood, and rightfully so. However, another suburb adjoining the CBD that has a lot of street art to discover, is Carlton.
Carlton is known for its brilliant dining scene. Not just the well known Italian food on Lygon Street, but the great Asian, Middle Eastern, and South and Central American restaurants that have popped up across the suburb in recent years. The area is well represented by good quality versions of cuisines from across the globe.
I love Carlton’s dining scene, and always integrate a bit of a street art walk into my visits to the neighbourhood. I’m always on the lookout for new pieces of street art, or older pieces I may have not seen before. Of course, seeing old favourites is also great.
In this Carlton street art guide, I’ll tell you about some of my favourite spots in which you can find Carlton’s best street art. I’ve also included the neighbouring suburbs of Carlton North and Princes Hill in this guide. They’re listed alphabetically, and range from the popular and well known, to the more obscure. Do keep in mind that this is just a guide. There’s good stuff all over the suburb, so feel free to explore when you visit.
This diagonal street is just behind Carlton Gardens and the Melbourne Museum. It’s a quiet residential street that connects Rathdowne and Nicholson Streets. Visit it, along with the intersecting Faraday Street and Canning Street, for an assortment of murals.
Four light boxes can be found on the exterior wall of the Carlton library on Newry Street, near the corner of Rathdowne Street. Exhibitions are a series of four images and are programmed for six months. A variety of themes and topics are covered in these exhibitions, from a diverse selection of the city’s artists.
Lygon Street itself isn’t home to a lot of street art, however it can be found all over the laneways and small side-streets that jut off it. Artwork in the area is varied, covering things like the area’s rich migrant history and flavour, and irreverent modern pieces.
There’s a lot of street art painted on the sides of the houses and businesses that line Nicholson Street. Paste ups are particularly common here, with advertising posters covered or joined by pieces covering topical issues of the day. The street represents the border of Carlton and Fitzroy, making it a great midpoint between exploring the two neighbourhoods.
Towards the northern most part of Carlton North, just before it becomes Brunswick East, you’ll find Pigdon Street and Park Street. In the residential streets between the two you’ll find lots of smaller scale pieces, as well as a few older murals from artists such as Adnate who have gone on to become quite famous in the street art world.
Princes Park / Melbourne Cemetery
This residential pocket of Princes Hill is home to some very unique architecture. Lots of interesting warehouse conversions and the like, along with Princes Hill Secondary College and council housing. Complimenting the diverse architecture, which is interesting in its own right, is an assortment of street art. Make sure you check out the piece created by Melbourne artist George Rose for HOME, a stay at home mural festival that ran during 2020’s big lockdown. It’s in an unmarked alleyway off Bagung Lane.
Warrior Woman Lane
Warrior Woman Lane pays tribute to the late Lisa Bellear, a passionate advocate for Aboriginal rights and representation, broadcaster, photographer and poet. At the age of 27, Lisa became the first female Aboriginal councillor for the former Collingwood City Council and went on to serve the Victorian Stolen Generations Taskforce and Reconciliation Victoria.
Lisa was also a founding member of Ilbijerri theatre company. She presented Not Another Koori Show on 3CR Community Radio for more than 20 years. The words “Warrior Woman” appear on one of Lisa’s poems, and her family suggested the name. I highly recommend that you take a walk through the lane when you get the opportunity, and visit the Warrior Woman website to learn more about Lisa and her legacy.
Deep respect to the Wurundjeri people, their Elders and Ancestors, on whose land Lisa Bellear lived and worked, and on which this laneway exists.
Identified artists featured in the image gallery include:
Happy discoveries on your walk through Carlton using my Carlton street art guide. What are your favourites places for street art in Carlton? Have you found any other pieces outside of these street art hotspots that you love?