What magic we humans conjure up every day. Yes, we make and eat food, go to big termite mounds in our cities to sit in front of a flickering piece of electronica every day, some of us get to walk around outside or drive from one place to another in a big piece of mobilised metal, and return to our smaller termite huts for the end of the day to eat more food, watch another flickering electronic device and then go unconscious in a purpose built nest for 8 hours every day. Some humans though, manage to find time to get hold of some ground up plant material, or its synthetic form, mix it with water and smear it all over a wall. And some humans get exceedingly good at this, to the point where other people fall in love with their creations. We have so absolutely fallen in love with some of the paintings we see around our Collingwood home, and here are some more of our favourites:
Did you like that surreal philosophical start to Part 2? Then you’ll love Kaff-eine’s weird and wonderful creatures. Spindly limbed, often hoofed, deer skulled and melancholy looking, Kaff-eine’s human-animal hybrids inspire a timid sadness of a less-than-perfect magical world. She collaborated on the Heartcore book, creating 20 murals interpreting stories from vulnerable children, one of which is the header for this post. You can find this specific piece in Northcote’s All Nations Park, and all other 19 murals around Melbourne. Kaff-eine has worked all over the world, and her newest portrait series in Manila is incredible.
See more of her work @kaffeinepaints
Hyper-reality is probably what sums up Smug’s distinct style for us. His portraits are huge, sometimes spanning a few buildings and stories, and central to his murals are expressive faces with just the right amount of madness in their eyes. From the fish sandwich guzzling guy on Johnston Street to the woman lying sideways in hysterics being tickles by playful otters on Otter Street to his own dignified looking grandparents at the far end of the CBD’s Lonsdale Street, a humanity shines through his portraits that is simply captivating.
See more of his work @smugone
One of the absolute highlights of Melbourne’s annual White Night festival has undoubtedly been Sofles’ Graffiti Mapped mural at the north end of the CBD. Now a massive building site, the 10m high and 30m wide black & white mural of a cartoon-like sensual woman came to life with colourful projection overlays running on 7 minute loops. Sofles paints in rich and vibrant colours, often portraits of women who seem to embody cyber-heaven like characteristics. Sofles was also involved one of the coolest art films ever made, trust us, google “Sofles – Limitless”, sit back and enjoy.
See more of his work @sofles
We first spotted Belgian artist Roa back in Shoreditch, London, when we frequently walked past his enormous black and white animal paintings. “It’s cool someone’s painting rats and squirrels and stalks” we thought. It turns out, this is kind of Roa’s thing, as he loves looking up local animals and bringing them into the urban landscape. So when we saw Roa’s work in Perth (home to Form, who are big on commissioning street artists in WA – check them out!), it was bandicoots and brown snakes winking at us from the walls. When you’re in town, see if you can catch one of his exhibitions at the Backwoods Gallery, they’re well worth a gander.
See more of his work, keep your eyes peeled as he’s not on Instagram
Twoone first stood out to us as the artist who drew skulls over other people’s portraits. In collaboration with Adnate, the pair painted a 4 story tall woman in blue with the delicate outlines of a huge bird skull over her face. Originally from Japan and Melbourne, Twoone now lives and works in Berlin. You can still find a lot of his mythical paitings around the city, and for a special treat, check out the cat portrait lightbox at Neko Neko on the corner of Gertrude and Smith Street.
See more of his work @t_w_o_o_n_e
There are of course countless other incredible artists working in this beautiful city of ours, and we are finding new murals all the time. It is the consistency in style and personal taste that made us admire the above 10 artists again and again, until we started actively following their work. It is at this point important to acknowledge that a lot of our most loved street artists were able to develop their talent precisely because they didn’t play by the rules of ‘traditional’ art curation. Many started off tagging, then honed their spray painting skills into more complex, multi-layer pieces, then developed on to other subjects, often despite the environment they lived and worked in.
Having to be accepted by a gallery or fill in endless paperwork to then be amongst the chosen few to be ‘allowed’ to develop your craft would have stifled great talent in its tender beginnings. We should celebrate artists who paint for the sake of it, for the public to see without having to pay an entry fee or be part of some institute’s closed circle. And no one starts off capable of creating jaw dropping work, so let’s cultivate enthusiasm when we see it, and encourage artistic development, so we can in future enjoy even more world class, democratised art on our streets.
Nowadays King Island is a windy and lush haven of tranquillity, away from the city crowds and filled with beautiful scenery, great food, a world class golf course and fantastic surf, only a short flight from Melbourne International airport but a world away from your favourite #firstworldproblems. Our recent shoot for Kirkhope Aviation let us explore the island and its friendly two- and four-legged inhabitants under blue skies and transported around in great comfort. Things weren’t always that rosy though, for apart from cheese and outdoor activities in untouched landscapes, King Island also boasts a savage reputation for being the resting place of over a hundred shipwrecks.
British history books tell us that King Island was first discovered in 1798 by Captain Reed, although we can’t be sure some local Australians didn’t make it there first, rocked up, had a look around and thought ‘well f*ck that’ before returning to the Great Ocean Road. To keep it in the family, the Island was named after NWS colonial governor Philip Gidley King in 1801. Due to the island’s position slap bang in the middle of the Roaring Fourties and the relatively narrow passage into the Bass Strait, there was a lot of potential for collision with either the western shores of King Island or the western Victorian coast. The construction of Cape Wickham lighthouse in 1861 in response the Cataraqui disaster may have contributed to further wreckage as lighthouses usually signal safety, not sharp rocks, and the space between the Victorian mainland Cape Otway lighthouse and the Cape Wickham lighthouse (open ocean suitable for ships) was often mistaken for the space between the Cape Wickham lighthouse and the Currie lighthouse (sharp pointy rocks and solid land, not so suitable for ships). Intriguing stories are so deeply wound into these disasters – here are some of the most notable ones:
1) Cataraqui, August 1845: The Mega-Catastrophe
Built in Quebec, the Cataraqui was chartered by the Land and Emigration Commissioners to carry emigrants to Melbourne under the bounty system, which encouraged British skilled and responsible workers to move to Australia. After three months at sea the Cataraqui ran into rough weather, combined with the captain believing he was way further North than he actually was, resulted in a serious clash of ship and shore, which distorted the hull so badly it imprisoned hundreds of emigrants including many women and children below deck. Over two hundred were reported to be clinging to the outside of the wreckage as salvaging efforts took place overnight, but after the ship broke in two in heavy storms, only nine people (the Chief Officer, six seamen, one apprentice and one emigrant named Brown) made it to land alive. Over a month later, the Constable of the Strait David Howie visited the wreckage and had a total of 342 washed up bodies buried in five main graves. Over one hundred and sixty years on, the wrecking of the Cataraqui still rates as Australia’s greatest civil disaster.
Due to the exposed nature of the wreckage site a mere 4m underwater, little remains of the ship itself on the seabed. Memorial plaques mark the site on the south-west shore of King Island and a number of items, including a canon, that were removed from the wreck by divers can be seen at the King Island Museum, Currie.
2) Neva, May 1835: Nothing like Orange is the New Black
Built in London, the Neva was en route from Cork to Sydney with 150 women convicts, 9 voluntary emigrants, officers, crew and 45 children on board when she hit the pointy end of Navarino Reef with such force that the prison doors burst open, resulting in a mass exit into the lifeboats and subsequent capsizing of the latter. A massive wave that broke and sunk the Neva swept passengers far and wide, with only 15 finally drifting ashore several miles from the scene of the disaster. The survivors sustained themselves with salvaged provisions before being met by the survivors of another wreck, the Tartar, which had met a similar fate on another part of King Island at roughly the same time. It is believed that at least 218 of the Neva’s passengers lost their lives, making it one of the worst wreckages of Australian history.
The Neva sunk just north off Cape Wickham but not remains are visible. Some graves were accidentally dug up in the dunes and a plaque has been installed to commemorate the victims.
3) British Admiral, May 1874: Blaming your tools…
Built in Liverpool and made out of iron, the British Admiral survived a previous extensive battering in the Bay of Biscay and was all fixed and pimped up ready for years of service, when she crashed into rocks four miles south of Currie with 49 passengers and 39 crew aboard only four months later. Only nine survived to tell the tale of a ship that was over-rigged (i.e had too much sail area in proportion to the body mass), had a faulty compass and an unreliable chronometer. Bodies and cargo washed up along twenty kilometers of beach, burials took place in more mass graves (King Island, looking a little bit sinister now?) and diving gangs spent the next twelve months recovering cargo from the seabed. So much for shoddy workmanship.
The British Admiral wreck location is roughly four miles south west of Currie and not accessible for diving. In fact, only 10% of wrecks in Tasmania have been found. If you walk to the southern end of the beach, you’ll find a memorial plaque though.
4) Carnarvon Bay, Sep 1910: The Phantom Ship
Built in Scotland, the Carnarvon Bay weighed 1932 tons and was the largest ship to be wrecked in King Island. Unlucky it had 4000 tons of cargo on board when it was blown to the South in a huge storm on a Sydney-Liverpool trip and developed a list that threatened to flood her. To boats made it off the ship and landed at Cape Liptrap in eastern Victoria and the other in Launceston, Tasmania. The Carvanon Bay sank completely and has never been seen again. Spooky.
You can’t find it cause no one ever has. On to the next one.
5) Loch Leven, Oct 1871: The Unfortunate Family Line
Built in Glasgow, the Loch Leven was one of 25 ships of the same family that happened to have a reputation of bad fortune, despite all being inventively named after Scottish Lochs. Yes, there was a ship called Loch Ness. Of the 25 only 5 ended up not sinking in accidents, disappearing, getting wrecked or torpedoed in oceans and ports around the globe. Fortunately for the Loch Leven though, she hit Harbinger Reef in thick fog about two kilometers south-east of Cape Wickham, presenting a magnificent picture lying there on an even keel with all sails set. Or so said the crew who all landed safely. The captain however went back for his papers and subsequently drowned when his boat capsized. Poor man. The cargo of wool valued at £150,000 (worth roughly a gazillion pounds in modern money) was recovered.
The Loch Leven’s resting place was obvious enough for some bright spark to mark it on a map, so you can dive the wreck on a calm day. Yey!
6) Flying Arrow, Nov 1855: Phoenix from the Ashes
Weirdly, the Flying Arrow was found abandoned off Fitzmaurice Bay with no one aboard to explain her condition. Anchors missing and chain cables hanging loose, it was assumed that she had been anchored somewhere whilst the crew landed on King Island. Finally finding someone connected to the boat in Melbourne, it was decided to forget about the embarrassing incident and keep on sailing business as usual. She was re-named Wings of the Wind just in case anyone started asking questions.
You can’t find it cause it was de-wrecked. How’s that for a curve ball?
7) Netherby, Jul 1866: The Happy Ending?
Built in Liverpool, the Netherby was on her way from London to Brisbane when without warning she struck on the East coast near Currie. All 452 passengers (most emigrants) reached shore using a boat hauled back and forth on a rope between the boat and a rock on the beach. Not one life was lost, indeed, thee were gained as a female passenger gave birth to twins soon after landing and another baby was born the following day. The Cape Wickham lighthouse whaleboat was sent to fetch transport for all passengers and whilst most were assisted by the Queensland emigration program, most decided to stay in Victoria (founding the township of Netherby in North-West Victoria) and some decedents still live on King Island today. Unfortunately though, during the salvage operation a heavy iron bar slipped and crashed into one of the boats with six men, of which only three made it back to land. Eye witnesses reported “The water was tinged with blood and it was thought they had been torn to pieces by sharks.” Well, you did want to learn about shipwrecks, they had to be in here somewhere…
After all cargo and equipment had been salvaged, nothing was left of the Netherby other than a few rotting timber beams. There has recently been a 150 year celebration and commemoration, so in a way, the remains of the Netherby can be seen everywhere on King Island.
It’s hard to find an art form that conquers the hearts and divides the opinions of millions around the globe as much as street art has done since its dramatic spread over the last few decades. An essentially democratic process with art made for everyone, sometimes in spite of everyone, for the pure motivation of just existing, however long or short the local council or competing artists allow, street art can change a beautiful area into something resembling a ghetto, or make a poor area so aspirationally ‘cool’ all the gentrifiers move in and squeeze out the original residents.
Some cities have shunned unauthorized painting and sculpting, but our current urban hub Melbourne has decided to embrace the creative potential this most trendy form of expression holds, which in return has allowed incredible talent to be fostered and developed to compete on a world stage. Our neighbourhood of Collingwood is a hotspot for various world-renowned artists, so when you come and visit Australia, keep an eye out for some of our favorites:
It was the aboriginal kid grimacing down at us, 4 meters high, face painted with white stripes, holding a spear up high above his small shoulder, that made us think “this is where we want to be”. Adnate has for years been painting usually invisible indigenous faces back into urban Melbourne, sometimes 6 stories high. His style of creating stunningly beautiful, incredibly lifelike portraits makes you wonder how he only got into it about 6 years ago.
See more of his work @adnate
2) Fintan Magee
Originally from Brisbane, we first spotted Fintan’s work in Perth and Townsville (of all places!). His paintings often tell surreal and intriguing stories – a refugee boy holding a noodle bowl containing a burning ‘Queenslander’ house or a cowboy riding through an ocean surrounded by pink trees. His style is far from cartoonish spray painting and more like something you’d see hanging in the National Gallery – but on a huuuge scale.
See more of his work @fintan_magee
If you’re into urb-exing, you may find yourself scrambling through an abandoned steel works to turn a corner and find an incredibly intricate portrait of a beautiful woman painted amongst the urban decay. Chances are, you’ll have found one of Rone’s many murals of ‘something that is very fragile, and on the edge of falling apart, but still holds its beauty’. Rone recently painted the above portrait in the soon to be demolished 1920s Art Nouveau Lyric Theatre as part of his “Empty” solo exhibition which firmly established him as a global exhibiting muralist.
See more of his work @r_o_n_e
4) Lucas Grogan
We first saw Lucas Grogan’s telltale blue and white geometric mural at Old Man’s Canggu, whilst we mused about the beauty of the planet and enjoyed our self-invented post-surf Bali Speedball. We were delighted when, just around the corner from our newly found home, we stumbled across another mural made up of countless geometric lines, shades of light and dark blue, interspersed with repetitive but hand painted shapes that told of that incredible patience only artists seems to be able to muster for creative detail. What we love about his work is that it makes walls look like fine china, has super-positive vibes but subversive undertones and cheeky elements you only see when you pay close attention. Oh, and if you were wondering what a Bali Speedball is, it’s a fresh coconut and a shot of espresso. Don’t mix.
See more of his work @xlucasgrogan
5) Ghost Patrol
Turns out we kinda know Ghost Patrol. Well, not really, we’re just good friends with one of his buddies. And he shone a lazer beam into our apartment from his apartment while we were chatting to said friend to find out how close we live to each other. Ghost Patrol’s beautiful gentle characters make streets into fairytales, which is why he mostly paints on commissioned walls. If you’re lucky though, you might spot one of his chalk drawings in the most unexpected of places.
See more of his work @ghostpatrol
Can’t get enough of all this awesomeness? Sure you can’t. Don’t worry, grab yourself another biscuit, there’s more in part 2.
Pristine white powdery sand between your toes, blue skies, a world-class surf break off shore, miles of national park with not a house in sight and more cheese than you could ever eat. Sound like heaven? Well, despite what you might be thinking from the above shot, we’re not in the Whitsundays (surf should have been a dead giveaway…).
Our latest project took us soaring high into the sky, as Kirkhope Aviation’s Piper Chieftain expertly piloted by Tony took us on a short panoramic loop above Melbourne’s spectacular CBD, followed by the scenic route across Port Philip Bay past the Great Ocean Road towards Tasmania. After an overcast morning, the clouds parted in multiple layers as streams of golden sunshine spilled on the ocean below and our destination came into sight. Nestled between the Great Australian Bight and the Bass Strait, approximately half way to the Tasmanian mainland is King Island, handily not named after a king, but someone with the surname King, who was actually a Colonial Governor of New South Wales. Go Aussie naming.
As we approached the tiny airport, our group started chatting animatedly about the landscape aerial view, the rugged coastline and near emptiness of lush green grasslands. Due to the plane’s size (7 passengers plus pilot), everyone got a window seat, and with more legroom than you can do a can-can in, the 45-minute flight passed like lightning. King Island is known to be windy, slap bang in the middle of the Roaring Fourties southern global wind tunnel, but it was certainly favouring us today as blue skies greeted us along with Ian and his all-terrain vehicle at the airport. After unloading our kit and the drone out of Piper’s nose (a flying machine in the nose of a bigger flying machine!), Ian bundled our group into the ride for the day, to take us for our ride of the day. Heading straight north to Whistler Point and Quarantine Bay, we soon spotted our first shipwreck, the American full rigged ship ‘Whistler’ (what a coincidence!), that sank in 1855 and is now nearly completely buried by sand. Eerie to think of this whole structure underground. If you’re a fan, you can find out more eerie stuff about King Island’s shipwrecks here.
We quickly saw the benefits of our all-wheel drive, as Ian scaled dunes and navigated rocky outcrops in between sprints on the beach. King Island is famous for its birdlife, some of which, such as the Ruddy Turnstone (we’re not making this up), migrate from Japan every year. An avid bird photographer on board asked a few times if we could stop for photos, which was great for us to have time for landscape shots including the group. As we headed inland for morning tea, kangaroos jumping next to us down the dirt track and cows peeking curiously out from the grassland, Ian explained that King Island was until recently covered in temperate rainforest, which was replaced by industrious types with grasslands to raise cattle. King Island has near perfect conditions for cattle and dairy farming, and one handful of little millet seeds washed ashore from Scottish shipwreck mattresses in the last century or two started a whole new floral colonisation of their own, spreading far and wide across the island. The cows, we’re told, love the stuff.
After lunch at Cape Wickham Golf Course (one of the best in Australia, if not the world) which gave us a good opportunity to fit in some drone photography without holding up the group, we headed to the nearby Cape Wickham Lighthouse, Australia’s tallest and only surpassed by a couple in Argentina for the prize of tallest in the Southern Hemisphere. There was said to have been some dispute during the build, as it seemed to cause more shipwrecks than it prevented. Again, if you’re a shipwreck aficionado, you know what to read next. Bright eyed, bushy tailed and full of lasagne and cappuccino, our group headed to Penny’s Lagoon, but not before saying hello to some rather intrigued but confused looking cows. What might look like a rather picturesque mirror-surface, but otherwise pretty ordinary lake, is in fact a natural phenomenon. The freshwater part of Penny’s Lagoon is suspended above the water level within a huge bowl made out of sand and decomposed organic matter, whereas saltwater flows below it from the sea. In a way, the freshwater hovers above the saltwater without mixing due to a layer of earth in between. We thought it was pretty neat.
Over the next hill though lay something that will definitely impress anyone – the most pristine white sand beach imaginable. Kelly Slater himself gets a private jet down when the conditions are right to surf the Martha Lavinia break just offshore (named after… you guessed it, an 1852 shipwreck) and we certainly enjoyed our walk in the sunshine pretending we were part of a secret world pro surf elite club. We were certainly part of a world-famous cheese-eating club half an hour later as we scoffed down tasty morsels at King Island’s famous cheese factory. Say what you like about cheese, but you could certainly taste happy cows through it, and see them all around munching away on green grass doing their free-range organic hippy cow thing in the landscape all around us.
Apart from cheese, lobsters and other seafood have made the island famous, freshness confirmed by a quick chat to a fisherman at the dock. Organic seaweed is also harvested on an industrial scale (and grows back on an industrial scale so is super-sustainable) and used as a thickening agent, for food and fertiliser. The island’s pollution-free environment has also led to one clever lad bottling rainwater and selling it overseas as ‘Premium Cloud Juice’. Again, not making this up. A final stop off in Currie for refreshments and a walk on Memorial Rock beach where we met the world’s friendliest horses topped off our King Island shoot perfectly. The plane was buzzing with conversation on our way back, how lucky we had been with the weather, how much fun everyone had had in the all terrain vehicle (despite or maybe because of some impromptu donuts) and we couldn’t get enough of shooting all the locations we had captured throughout the day, this time thanks to Piper’s big windows, from the sky. Accessing mostly inaccessible locations needs specialist transport and a lot of organising, but this shoot ran so seamlessly, it was a joy to complete.