St Peters NSW 2044 – May Lane

October 23, 2012

I’ve been inspired as much by Christian Tribastone’s recently uploaded superb sketch to the website of a large graff wall mural as by this graff portrait (with the brilliant re-statement of the facial features, whether deliberate or not I cannot tell) which I came across elsewhere in Sydenham:

I’ve been taken with the portraiture in “Street Art of the/Sydney’s inner west”, a 2009 book full of long panorama photos by Melinda Vassallo and edited by Bob Percival. Mays Lane (and the MAY’s Lane Project – occupies several pages of the book.

Sketching on white paper isn’t conducive to copying examples of the actual street art in May Lane and not having any (dark grey) toned paper on me today, I eased myself into the situation by removing myself quite a way down May Lane, almost to Council Street.

As a former calligrapher, I’m amazed at the complexity of the letter forms (as complex as anything produced in 8th century Ireland) and of course the link between contemporary graffiti to the dichotomy in the art of the Ancient Romans between people-based graffitti and the Establishment’s carved capital letters, reminiscent of the Low and High Art of today; I’m however particularly interested these days in the treatment of portraiture by street artists. 

Bright Prismacolour coloured pencils are conducive to rendering not only plastics in the urban environment, but also spraycan colours. This is a sketch in the true sense of the word: it doesn’t convey any of the dark shadows in the narrow lane on a very overcast morning. I was camped in the street; two residents wandered out and someone was washing a red car.  An area traditionally of light industry, the nearby May Street Studios has been turned over to small businesses servicing residents in new high-rise apartment blocks: a yoga venue and a gymnasium.


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