Never Debate the Art of DVATE

DVATE (born 1981) is a Melbourne graffiti street artist and professional artist since 2009.  He uses spray paint and acrylic to paint large scale works. DVATE has developed and varied his own unique street art font and has created amazing photo-realistic portraits of local and endangered flora and fauna as well as portraits.

  • DVATE started his street art in 1997. Over the years he has worked for many crews including: SDM ADN TMPS ID and painted with many different artists such as Dabs, Myla and Gent.

Learn more about DVATE and his art at his website, Instagram account or @dvate

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Heesco | Paradiso – How Could He Be So

Heesco Khosnaran (Real name: Khürelbaataryn Khosnaran) is an impressive photo realistic portrait street artist. Born in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Heesco moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2010 and has painted various artworks around the city and in the wider arena.

  • Drawing since a youngster, Heesco  has been inspired by modern media and has worked with the Melbourne street art Blender Crew. He uses a free hand style often using the tag Mongo in his works.

Heesco has also contributed street art murals for the Silo Art program, having decorated the silos at Weethalle and Grenfell. Some of his works focus on a darker twist – painting with a sardonic sense of humour popular figures, such as: Tony Abbott, Gina Rhinehart, Donald Trump, Heston Blumenthal and Teddy Boy hooligan Alex, from Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film ‘A Clockwork Orange‘ amongst his many works.

  • Discover more of Heesco’s art at his website.

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Three Slithers of Walter Withers

[Images: Allegory to Spring (Portrait of Gladys Manifold) oil on canvas (1902); The Drover (1912) Bendigo Art Gallery]

Walter Herbert Withers was an Australian landscape artist and a member of the Heidelberg School of Australian Impressionists (The Heidelberg School) along with other famous Australian artists such as Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, Tom Roberts and Frederick McCubbin.

Withers was born at Handsworth, Staffordshire, on 22 October 1854. He showed an early desire to paint, much to his father’s distaste. By 1882, the 28 year old Withers had migrated to Australia and lived in Melbourne, after completing 18 months on a farm. He began working as a draughtsman for a firm of printers. In his spare time Withers kept up his artwork and some were accepted for exhibition in the Old Academy, Melbourne.

  • In 1887, Withers went to Europe; and with his wife settled in a small flat in Paris, where he studied for some months at the Académie Julian. They returned to Australia the following year settling in the Melbourne suburb of Kew and later, at Eaglemont. It was during this period that he became a member of the Heidelberg School.

After a couple of years, Withers took out a lease on the south wing of the “Charterisville” mansion in East Ivanhoe, where he and his family lived for four years. Two of Withers’ notable pupils were Percy Lindsay, and his younger brother Norman Lindsay.

  • In 1891, Withers opened a studio in Melbourne’s Collins Street West, where he held his first private exhibition. Three years later he was living in a cottage in Cape Street, in the local suburb of Heidelberg.  It was here that he painted some of his finest work of the fin de siècle period.

In 1897, Withers was awarded the first Wynne Prize in Sydney for his picture, “The Storm“, which was purchased by the National Gallery of New South Wales. He was elected to the council of the Victorian Artists’ Society in 1889, and in 1905 held the office of President for one year.

  • His health began to deteriorate, but he continued to do a large amount of painting both in oils and in water-colours. He died just nine days short of his 60th birthday, in Eltham, Victoria on 13 October 1914; and was survived by his wife and four children.

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Get Your Kaff-eine Kick Here Now

Katie ‘Kaff-eine‘ (born 1972) from Melbourne is a female street artist and former lawyer, horse-riding instructor and tree-lopper. Kaff-eine began mostly with black and white paste-ups back in 2009 and now spreads her free hand stories in colour painting with aerosols and acrylics. Her depictions are described as naive in style, often portraying humans with animal extensions and deer hunter humans.

Kaff-eine works mostly solo and her work is often found around the inner Melbourne suburbs of Brunswick, Collingwood, Richmond and Prahran. Her work is also located around the lanes, alleys, streets, abandons and railways of Melbourne, interstate and overseas; including places such as Berlin, Manila and within the United States.

  • Kaff-eine would keep a couple of spray cans with her at all times and if she saw a wall she liked whilst walking home from work, she would stop and paint, often wearing her full corporate clothes. She figured it would be safe to do so, as the police would probably not be looking for a public servant, graffiting walls.
  • Asked why she calls herself ‘Kaff-eine’ she responded “I like coffee, I like caffeine, it keeps me going, especially when I used to paint at night until 4.00 a.m. and get up three hours later to work as a public servant.”

Kaff-eine has illustrated two children’s books ‘Vera’ and ‘The Promise’ and worked on the Berry Street Children’s book ‘Heartcore’.

  • Kaff-eine has quit her full-time job and turned to street art full-time.
  • She met and painted with Israeli street artists Herakut and did a one-day round trip with them around Victoria, before they went back to Israel.

For further information visit her Website: Facebook Page: or Instagram account.

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I’m Spinning Around | The Famous Hill’s Hoists

The Australian invention Hill’s Hoists outdoors clothes line transformed backyards across Australia in years after World War Two (WW2) due to a couple of wayward fruit trees behind a house in an Adelaide suburb.

Lance Hill of Glenunga returned home from War in 1945 to find the trees competing for space with the family clothes line. Rather than remove them, Hill looked for an alternative drying device that would take up less room than the line. Using his laundry as a workshop, Hill fashioned an innovative replacement; a compact rotary clothes line that could be raised and lowered.

  • It was a prototype of the famous rotary clothes hoist that would bear his name and soon become synonymous with suburbia – The Hill’s Hoist.

Little wonder the Hill’s Hoist has ended up in Australian art, from tea towels to major artworks including:

  • Through the Back Garden – John Dent (born 1951), painted this oil on canvas in 1981. The scene depicts the artist’s domestic back garden in Richmond before he left for Europe for further study in  France. Dent has been inspired by the French painters, particularly Bonnard and Vuillard, both masters of the intimate and his paintings and prints show this sensibility. (Castlemaine Gallery collection).
  • Older Than the Hills – (Part of a Tea Towel Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney entitled The Australian Dream: Design and the Home of the Fifties).
  • Beyond the PaleSandra Hill also tackled hanging washing on the line.  Born in Nyoongar in 1951 it was painted in Balingup, Western Australia in 2010. Made from synthetic polymer paint on plywood, and painted wood, this work references the assimilation policies of the 1950s and 1960s and the whitening of Aboriginal Australia. The white paling fence accords with notions of being fenced off, or marginalised.  (National Gallery of Victoria collection).
  • Backyard With Bathtub – photograph (2001). Rex Dupain (born 1954), the only son of photographer Max Dupain, was introduced to photography at a young age but put his photographic pursuits on hold to study painting in the 1970s at the National Art School, where he later taught painting and drawing. He went on to complete a Master of Fine Arts (Painting) at the University of New South Wales in 1992, and pursued a successful career as a painter. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that Rex rediscovered his love and talent for photography. His work has since been exhibited widely around Australia and the rest of the world, including an exhibition in Paris in 2010.

“I’m spinning around, Move outta my way”

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The Giants of Baby Guerilla

Baby Guerilla studied oil painting and completed a Fine Arts Degree at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. Her artwork can be found at the National Gallery of New South Wales and in many other galleries and collections. However, her street art which started in 2012, is more readily accessible throughout Melbourne’s CBD and surrounding suburbs in the inner West. What started out as a hobby has grown into something much more prolific. Anonymity suits this street artist. She mostly works at night and privately spies on the walls she plans to capture, during the day.

  • Her black and white portraits in which her subjects are free, escaping, or caught in mid air, are most prominent in the inner west of Melbourne including on the side of Victoria University’s Footscray Campus.

Baby Guerilla sees her two art media working as complimentary. On her website Baby Guerilla sees her drawing on walls as a beautiful challenge… the challenge of space and constraints. Defying gravity, dancing with gravity. The love affair continues…

  • During an interview with Amanda Luxmoore for Beautiful Bizarre, 22 September 2014,  Baby Guerilla stated:

“My mission is to liberate art from just the gallery or the picture frame and make it accessible to everyone. I love the idea of setting art free, setting our souls free; to dream and imagine; and go floating across a wall. I seek to create worlds, meaning out of mayhem and dreams from despair.”

  • Discover more about Baby Guerilla at her website.

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A Topological Measure of Escher

[Images: Dream (early woodcut, 1935), Stars (polyhedron wood engraving, 1948), Vlinders aka Butterflies, (wood engraving, 1950), Circle Limit III (woodcut, 1959)].

Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis (M.C.) Escher aka “ Mauk” was born June 17, 1898, in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints.

  • He was a sickly child, and not very scholastic but excelled at drawing and carpentry, later studying decorative arts at the Haarlem School of Architecture and Decorative Arts.
  • He traveled through Italy and Spain where he was impressed by the Alhambra, the 14th-Century Moorish castle in Granada; with its intricate and decorative designs based on mathematical formulae; with interlocking repetitive patterns sculpted into the stone walls and ceilings.
  • This became a powerful influence on Escher’s works.

In his graphic art, the left-handed Escher portrayed mathematical relationships among shapes, figures and space; with interlocking figures using black and white to enhance different dimensions. Many of Escher’s works employed repeated tilings called tessellations. Integrated into his prints were mirror images of cones, spheres, cubes, rings and spirals. In his later years he also sketched insects.

Escher’s artwork is especially well liked by mathematicians and scientists, who enjoy his use of polyhedra and geometric distortions. Although he did not have any formal mathematical training, Escher’s understanding of mathematics was largely visual and intuitive. Nevertheless, his work had a strong mathematical component and more than a few of the worlds he drew were built around impossible objects such as the Necker Cube and the Penrose Triangle. Other mathematical principles evidenced in his works include the superposition of a hyperbolic plane on a fixed two-dimensional plane; and the incorporation of three-dimensional objects such as spheres, columns and cubes into his works.

  • Escher moved to the Rosa Spier Huis in Laren in 1970, a retirement home for artists where he had his own studio. He died at the home on 27 March 1972, at age 73.
  • Discover further information in The Graphic Work of M.C. Escher [book].

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Lil’ Red Ridin’ Hood or Urban Cake Lady?

After having moved to Melbourne, Australia from Nelson, New Zealand in 2007, not much is known about the mysterious and elusive Urban Cake Lady. The only information I could find was from an interview to fellow street-artist Facter 10 years ago on November 26, 2010 on Invurt.

Facter described her colourful, vibrant and eye-catching work which often features a female in a red hoodie and striped tights. The character  doesn’t have a face underneath the hood, so people can fill in those unknown details themselves. She confessed that the unnamed character is a kind of self portrait, but for all intense and purposes she sees the character as an anonymous one.

Her smaller pieces took around 8-10 hours, and the larger ones, anywhere between 15-20 hours to complete. When it comes to placement of her art, Urban Cake Lady usually tries to avoid using brick walls because of the red on red aspect – so that cuts out quite a lot. She often keeps her eyes open for other coloured walls, and goes on little scouting missions to look for new spots. Otherwise, she finds that it just ends up being a pretty long night biking around and looking for somewhere – she prefers to have a place in mind, and be focussed on that.

With a full time job, Urban Cake Lady only has time to paint at nights and on weekends.  When pasting her art, she claims that she has been caught a couple of times, but has never had to do a ‘runner’. On one occasion she reflected “I think the police were more amused than anything, and I hate to say it, but being a polite girl probably worked in my favour. I’m not risking as much as others are if I’m caught with just paper and paste, but I’m still fairly cautious, and I try not to draw attention to myself”.

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This Nude Life of Janet Cumbrae-Stewart

[Images: Early in the Morning (1924 pastel on paper mounted on board NGA Canberra) Portrait of a Girl with Flowers (1922 pastel 74 cm x 53 cm)

Janet Agnes Cumbrae-Stewart was born on 23 December, 1883 in the Melbourne Bayside suburb of Brighton. As a student of the National Gallery school from 1901-1907, Cumbrae-Stewart was awarded 2nd place in 1905 and received a travelling scholarship. She spent 17 years in Europe from 1922, studying and living in Caen and Avignon, France; Laiguelia on the Riviera de Pononte in Northern Italy and later in Canada. She also exhibited her artwork extensively in London and Paris.

  • Cumbrae-Stewart is primarily known for her sensitive, yet sensuous female nudes, in pastel.
  • She died on 8 September, 1960 at the inner city Melbourne suburb of South Yarra.

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The Credo of Guido

Guido Van Helten is street artist and muralist from Brisbane who travels the world painting large scale photo-realistics. His portraits can be found everywhere from a restricted zone in Chernobyl to his largest work; a monochrome mural depicting four farmers on a grain silo at Brim, in Victoria’s rural north-east.

  • This was the first of a six silo project that now comprises Victoria’s 200km Wimmera-Mallee Silo Art Trail which he completed in early 2016.
  • Other images featured above are from a side street in Richmond and a skate park mural in Canberra.

Van Helten was commissioned to be part of a series of murals for the Melbourne Polytechnic and he worked with profoundly deaf contemporary dancer Anna Seymour to create a striking seven-storey portrait of her on the exterior of the Polytechnic’s campus in High Street, Windsor. (Seymour is well known to the deaf community, teaching Diploma courses in Auslan).

The collaboration by Seymour and Van Helten was engineered by street art management agency Juddy Roller; and began with a photo shoot in Collingwood with Seymour improvising poses inspired by the architecture of the building. Van Helten then transferred the image to the wall using only spray paint, acrylics, paint brushes and a large cherry picker.

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Vanitas | The Still Life of Pieter Claesz

[Images: Vanitas (Still Life) by Pieter Claesz]

Dutch Golden Age artist Pieter Claesz was born c. 1597 in Berchem, near Antwerp, Belgium. Living in Haarlem, he became a member of the Guild of St. Luke in 1620. Claesz was influenced by a type of still life painting movement known as vanitas, a common genre in Netherdlandish art of the 16th and 17th centuries. These showed the spirit of the Reformation and were more subdued, with an almost monochromatic palette, displaying subtle indications of light and texture, appearing throughout.

  • Vanitas was a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure and the certainty of death; often contrasting symbols of wealth, ephemerality and death.
  • These themes were common in medieval funerary art.

Common vanitas symbols included: skulls, (a reminder of the certainty of death); rotten fruit (decay); bubbles (the brevity of life and suddenness of death); smoke, watches, and hourglasses (the brevity of life); and musical instruments (brevity and the ephemeral nature of life). Fruit, flowers and butterflies were interpreted in a similar way; and a peeled lemon was, like life; attractive to look at, but bitter to taste.

  •  Claesz died in Haarlem on 1 January 1660.

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Framing Heck | The Hijinks of skr3am and Jinks1


skr3am and Jinks1 of Redlight Studio have created a number of framed street art images across Melbourne, using pictures of famous icons. So far, the likenesses of ’60s fashion icons such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton have graced the walls from Balaclava, South Melbourne and Brighton, to name but a few.  Others have included the former ’80s pop idol Prince.

The framed works can take up to five days and nights to produce, often using many picture frames, either collected or custom made; and placed strategically over the mural, creating an elegant, yet edgy effect.

  • Although not shown in the images above, one installation in South Melbourne entitled “Maxwell” is a depiction of mathematical physicist James Clerk Maxwell, who was known for presenting the first durable colour photograph in 1861 and the colour concept of RGB (Red/Green/Blue).

Find out more about skr3am via this Facebook page.

Freeze frames for artists of fame

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A Backview of Caspar Friedrich’s Art

[Image One: Sunset – The Brothers (1835) The Hermitage, St. Petersburg. Image Two: The Wanderer Above the Sea of Clouds (1831) Hamburg Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Germany.]

Caspar David Friedrich studied drawing in Greifswold before going to the Copenhagen Academy between 1794-1798. His drawings in pen and ink were admired by Goethe and won him a Wimar Art Society Prize in 1805. Friedrich’s first major commission came two years later in the form of an altarpiece for Count Thun’s castle in Teschen. This set the tone for many later works in which dramatic landscapes expressed moods, emotions and atmosphere.

  • Friedrich was appointed a professor of the Dresden Academy in 1824, where he influenced many of the young German and Scandinavian artists of the mid-19th Century; and as a result, he ranks highly among the formative figures of the Romanticism Movement.

Friedrich suffered major social difficulties during his youth and once slit his throat in an attempt to kill himself. Further outbursts indicated his fragile mood swings and turmoils which impacted his life.

  • On his return to Germany, Friedrich settled in Dresden where he spent the rest of his life until he died in 1840.

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This is why Maka’s is so popular…

Mike Maka or Makatron (born 1979) is a well known Australian street artist and painter easily recognised by his large scale murals inspired by mechanical machinery, flora and fauna.  Maka uses a mix of aerosol and acrylic water-based paints, whilst working with a variety of media; mainly on walls, canvas and illustrations on paper. His artwork has been described as capturing a world where nature fights back against humanity, reclaiming it from the friction point between man, beast and machine.

  • Maka was raised in Adelaide as the second eldest of six children. He studied art at Marryatville High School in Adelaide, followed by studies in illustration. Maka won an art scholarship and moved to New York, studying fine art at the Adelphi University. He worked and lived in New York for five years as a bike courier before travelling and working in London, Toronto and Sydney as a courier, using these opportunities to find and leave his mark on many city walls.

By the age of 25, Maka moved to Melbourne and studied graphic design. By 2006 he became a full time artist and active studio member of the Everfresh ‘crew’ in Collingwood; working with other artists, print makers, photographers and illustrators. He has exhibited extensively throughout Australia as well as group shows in Brazil, Japan, Miami and New York; and has works in private and public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, the National Gallery of Victoria and MONA in Tasmania.

  • A recent commission included painting a wine label for a bottle of Shiraz for South Australia’s Longview Vineyard situated in the Adelaide hills; which was presented in a canister that resembled a spray can.

Find out more about Mike Makatron’s art on his website or Instagram account @mike_maka

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When Art Begins to Imitate Art

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) was a famous Dutch Baroque period artist who died at a veritable young age of 43 years; but managed to produce 34 quality paintings during his short career. Vermeer was known to paint slowly, touching and polishing up and fine-tuning each and every picture. His subjects were subtle, quiet and often depicted typical household activities, such as:

  • A woman standing at a window writing a letter,
  • A lady dozing off in the afternoon, or
  • A cavalier’s jokes making his girlfriend laugh.

These are all commonplace subjects, but Vermer rendered them beautifully and perfectly, so that art lovers have been in awe of his paintings for almost 400 years.

  • The Girl with a Pearl Earring was supposed to be a study – the type of painting an artist dashed off as an exercise.
  • However, it is now considered a major masterpiece; and at the heart of it is the earring he made, with just two brush strokes and that small flash of white in the pearl picks up the white of the woman’s collar, the clarity of the whites of her eyes and the flecks of white in the turban.
  • No one is sure who the girl is, but no one can take their eyes off the pearl earring.

Modern day interpretations of The Girl with a Pearl Earring have been converted into a fictional story by Tracy Chevalier, which was later translated to a movie directed by Peter Webber; with a soundtack by the French film composer Alexandre Desplat.

  • Also depicted is a chalk artist aka ‘chalky’ version who has replicated this piece, as seen above.

All I can say is,
Seen this, read that,
Heard it and viewed it,
The Girl with a Pearl Earring – Just Simply Love It!

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