A massive clean up was under way on Monday after vandals in face masks trashed the street art that adorns Melbourne’s famous Hosier Lane.
A gang of vandals armed with paint guns hit the popular laneway on Saturday night, spraying over the hundreds of artworks that line its walls.
The gang of about 10 filmed their destruction, even bringing along a drone to assist.
The art on the walls of buildings in Hosier Lane, in Melbourne’s CBD, draws thousands of tourists from Australia and overseas every day.
The lane has hosted numerous photo shoots and even concerts.
Masked men have armed themselves with fire extinguishers and sprayed over the precious graffiti art in Melbourne’s iconic Hosier Lane. @cityofmelbourne looking into it. Video courtesy of Instagram/joe_musco @10NewsFirstMelb #springst @10NewsFirst (and thanks @RossAndJohn 4 tip) pic.twitter.com/Shbrb26OA6
— Simon Love (@SimoLove) February 9, 2020
But it was a gloomy site on Monday morning, with smudgy sprays of blurred colour obscuring the famous artworks.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the attack had been reported to police – and it was “not in keeping with the spirit” of the street art laneway.
“That balance between street art and graffiti is sometimes difficult to define,” she said.
“We see this as vandalism and intend to pursue the people who have perpetrated this crime.”
The trashing sparked outrage from many on social media.
Joe Musco shared a video of the vandalism on his Instagram, writing: “Check this out. These dudes with face masks carrying fire extinguisher filled with paint hit up Hosier lane tonite.
“A lot of awesome art work was destroyed,” he went on.
“I don’t know mate, but that’s just s–t. Anyhow that’s how it goes.”
However, prominent Melbourne artist Rone told the ABC that Hosier Lane was “a free for all” and the spray paint attack was “an exaggeration of what’s already happening”.
“Nothing is respected down there anyway,” he said.
“There is a view held by some artists that Hosier Lane is trash already. It’s a tourist trap.
“There have been artists selling wares down there. It’s becoming like an extension of Vic market.”
What complete & utter dickheads: the street art in Hosier Lane in Melbourne obliterated by jerks in masks while being filmed by a drone. Wimps. https://t.co/7zgPjZLCdv via @Ro_Smith @newscomauHQ pic.twitter.com/sqDa0Vor7a
— Melissa Hoyer (@melissahoyer) February 9, 2020
Chase Joslin, who manages the Hosier Lane Culture Kings streetwear outlet, described the vandalism as a “real shame”.
“When you’re coming through and destroying people’s art, I don’t think it’s part of the culture,” he told the ABC.
“What is it? There’s not much art to it.”
The vandalism was first reported by Melbourne’s 3AW radio station, which called the gang “masked killjoys”.
Host Ross Stevenson told listeners the vandals had “obliterated all the street art”.
— Iskhandar Razak (@Isk137) February 9, 2020
Contractors cleaning cobblestones on Hosier Lane after a raid by a masked gang with fire extinguishers full of paint obliterated existing street art. A culture war between radical graffiti and more commercial street art? 6pm #7NewsMelb pic.twitter.com/XX5kfhEoXR
— NickMcCallum7 (@NickMcCallum7) February 9, 2020
By late on Monday morning, contractors armed with high-powered hoses were cleaning the paint from the lane’s cobblestones.
As for the works on the building walls, Cr Capp has encouraged Melbourne’s street artists to head to Hosier Lane and paint over the spray paint.
Police have asked witnesses to contact Crime Stoppers.