Blue laneway

Just the other week an artist  – Adrain Doyle – transformed this iconic Melbourne graffiti laneway by spray painting it ’empty-nursey blue’.  A colour he says sums up his feelings about his childhood.


It wasn’t long before the taggers, graffers, and street artists were were back, painting over the ’empty-nursey blue’.


I went to see the laneway 3 days after it had been sprayed blue, to see it quickly returning back to its bright past.  When I arrived there was school students, tourists, grafters alike all there to see the laneway with a camera/phone in hand.


One of my favourite things about street art is its ability to transform a space and bring people together.  Here we all were different people, but at that moment all there to wonder and marvel over the ’empty-nursey blue’ laneway.

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In the Youth and Schools team at Urban Seed we like to talk.. and talk and talk.. Mainly because we want to share some of the great stuff we have learned through many years of hanging out with people who are different from us.

Sometimes groups of students want to interview us and ask us questions that relate to stuff they’re learning at school. It could be for a project or as part of their school’s city exposure week.

I met with a group of year 9s today. They wanted to chat about homelessness and what it is like for us to hang out with homeless people so I did my best to answer their questions and I thought you might like to hear a couple of my responses too!

Q. Do you feel self conscious when you’re walking down the street with a homeless person?? Do you feel like people are looking at you funny??

A. Well, that’s a tricky question. Did you know that not all homeless people “look” homeless?? Some my homeless friends would not really stand out in the crowd at all. Just today I had lunch with a guy who has been homeless for the best part of a year. He is living in a refuge right now. You’d never guess he was homeless as he is only 22 and dresses pretty normally. Nice hat, nice shoes, he’s clean etc. But he’s homeless. 

That said, sometimes I do hang out with homeless people who fit the scruffy homeless stereotype and when I do, (to be really honest) sometimes people do stare or give us funny looks. But then I remember that this is how it feels to be different.. to be one of “THEM”. And those feelings of discomfort and awkwardness are for me, a fleeting feeling. But for someone who sleeps rough and/or looks “homeless”, this is what they face every day. 

Q. What are some of the main reasons people end up homeless?

A. Homelessness is often the result of many different factors – some of these are family breakdown, abuse, trauma, disability, addictions, illness and poverty. For the 45% of Australia’s 100,000 + homeless people that are under 25 years of age, domestic violence is the number one cause. 

Q. What are some of the biggest hurdles to getting back on track?

A. I think one of the biggest ones is not having an address. There are many hurdles but the simple fact of not having an address means that people can’t get any government payments (as it’s one of the first questions on the paperwork), can’t get a job (what is written on the top of your resume??… yup! Your address!), and don’t have anywhere to have mail sent so even if they did get a job it would be very difficult to receive correspondence. 

Thanks for the questions guys. I’d love to answer more so if you have any please send them through to  

Who are the ‘faceless’ people that you know?

What could you do to give them a ‘face’?

Who are the strangers that could become friends?


This was filmed in Union Lane in Melbourne.  A regular stop in our City is Our Home Walks.  We had to endure the ‘fruits’ of this in the days after.  It was not pleasant.  🙁

One of the interesting things about Melbourne, is that it has many different spaces and sections.  Each space or section, caters for something different.  As the spaces change in the city, so do the people in those spaces and the activities done in them.  

The laneways in Melbourne provide an alternate space and voice.  Thus graffiti is a popular element of Melbourne’s laneways.   Can you imagine the 3L milk challenge being done in the Block arcade?

Union Lane is one of the places in the city where we like to play laneway cricket.  For us cricket is a way of blurring the lines between the different sections and spaces that exist in the city.  When we play cricket a game is usually made up of ‘random’ people who all wish to play cricket.  Ordinarily these people would not hang out or get to know each other, but by playing cricket they begin to realise that they have many things in common.  

This piece of graffiti was done by Melbourne based street artist Meek.  (Not Banksy as many think).  It appeared all around Melbourne in 2004.  

One of the great things about graffiti is that it asks many questions, rather than just giving answers.  

What kind of change?

His life to change?

The world to change?

This in turn begs the questions:

Is this change possible, and how?

Does it require any change from us?

This piece of graffiti was found in our laneway (Baptist Place) a number of years ago.  

One of the great things about graffiti is that it creates dialogue (a conversation on the wall) as can be seen in this piece.  

What stands out the most here is the comments about Reality and how we handle it.  

There will be times when each of us will struggle to handle reality.  The only difference will be in what we ‘use’ to help us handle our reality.  

At Urban Seed the people we met in our laneway (especially early on) used drugs as a way to cope and escape reality.  

Where as for you and I we may ‘use’ friends, family, food, exercise, music, gaming and so on as a way to cope with life.  

But are we really any different?