Shopfront art pops up across Melbourne

See Melbourne transformed into an outdoor art gallery as 45 large-scale artworks pop-up in street-facing shopfronts, from the central city to Southbank.

Artist Kala Spencer has an artwork titled Akurrknge displayed at Freshwater Place in Southbank.

Originally from Alice Springs, Kala created the artwork after moving to Geelong mid-pandemic. The piece is inspired by the theme of mental health, and its title means ‘brain’ in Arrernte language.

‘I have personally battled with mental health my whole life. Especially through COVID, many people have struggled with their own battles with mental health related issues,’ Kala said.

‘Through this artwork, I wanted to encourage conversation on the brain. I wanted to create a map of all memories, paths, decisions, thoughts, good and bad.

‘The brain is the most misunderstood organ in the body and yet we think we can understand it.’

Kala believes that public art is an important way for people to express their emotions, creativity, and political and social views on a large scale, and reach diverse audiences.

‘Public art brings people together and starts conversations,’ Kala said.

‘COVID has impacted every person in a different way and isolation is a common denominator.

‘What more beautiful way to get people interacting again, safely, than to be out exploring Melbourne’s amazing collection of public art and future art installations.

‘To be able to see my traditional heritage and culture on a large scale in the middle of the city – it blew my mind. I am very proud of my collaboration with the City of Melbourne.’

View more of Kala’s artwork at Reckless Art Co.

More new public art

Here are three more shopfront artworks to look out for as you move through the city:

1. Garreth Pearce
179 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Spot psychedelic digital artwork with the feel of a retro arcade game. Garreth’s surreal artworks are in-demand among the music community for album covers, posters and events.

2. Shannon May Powell
28 Niagara Lane, Melbourne
Discover an artwork by a prolific writer and photographic artist that invites you to revel in what you missed during lockdown, such as architecture, cultural vibrance, wanderlust and human connection.

3. Tai Snaith
850 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Reflect on our shared experience of ‘nesting’ and ‘emerging’ as the pandemic unfolded in this photographic work. Tai’s work ranges from epic installations to evocative podcasts.

These are just three examples of artworks installed through the shopfront project. To learn more, visit Public Art.

The shopfront-activation project is one of several initiatives funded through the Melbourne City Recovery Fund, a partnership between the City of Melbourne and the Victorian Government.

Nine precinct associations are also being provided with $100,000 in funding to create activations that encourage people back to key commercial areas.

‘Empty shopfronts are a visible reminder that the City of Melbourne’s economy has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,’ the Lord Mayor said.

‘We are investing in these creative programs as a short-term measure to ensure our streets remain appealing and continue to encourage people to our inner-city areas.

‘Repurposing these spaces to showcase local artwork creates work for Melburnians at a time where every job counts.

‘We are also working to encourage businesses to set up in recently vacated shopfronts and trying to facilitate connections between entrepreneurs and the commercial property sector.’