Stop 4: Gertrude St

As you walk along Brunswick St towards Gertrude St, you notice a slow change in scenery. Residential buildings replace middle class shops; you spot Brotherhood of St. Laurence offices and just up ahead a row of commission houses. You become unwittingly more prepared to see the change in graffiti style that is more synonymous with the struggle of the people living in the area. Gertrude has gentrified relatively slowly, and continues till this day. You can tell one side of the street is filled with hip cafes that have become a signifying factor in gentrification, while the other paints an opposing picture.

Here you see a massive mural, with a very lively use of colour. It is a very interesting piece that engulfs the entrance of a newly opened store. It differs to the other murals, as it holds high aesthetic value, but unlike the other pieces, this one asks something of you. It asks you not to disrespect it just by looking at it and moving on. It demands that you spend a few moments there, and take in the emotion of the artist. It wants you to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, like he or his people had.

The frequency of gentrification has decreased leading to different art forms. There may be a causal relationship between artwork and rising property prices but it may also be the other way around. Where the culture of a society is still intact, with little dilution by the urban culture, the artists create art that they feel as compared to what’s considered beautiful by others. This artist realizes his freedom to talk about Australia’s involvement in the East Timor Oil crises here as compared to in a more urbanized populist area like the CBD.