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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Born Free | To Be Free


Be Free is a street artist who began her street art in September, 2010. She uses stencils and free flowing acrylics for installations and street painting and pasting adventures around Melbourne; which she is slowly introducing around the world.

Since her beginning, she has been trying new ideas, media and methods for interacting with the public; engaging the passers-by; and displaying art in different manners and scales.

  • Be Free’s first art piece was for her sister’s birthday – where she drew up a little map and gave her sister $5 for coffee and said take a camera.
  • The surprise was a piece created in North Fitzroy, opposite the cafe.
  • More information on Be Free is available on her Facebook page.

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Suki’s Anything But Kookie

Suki moved to Melbourne starting out in street art with small lino print paste-ups and then progressing to bigger pieces. Suki is inspired by traditional Asian wood block prints, brown-paper fabric and yarn.

  • Suki is a street artist from Melbourne who pastes and paints movement and time, dances and life around the suburbs. She works primarily with urban art installations and printmaking, though also explores materials including fabric, fibre, ink and found objects.
  • Combining subtle femininity and the natural world, she creates works that contrast and complement the walls of the city.
  • Travelling around the country and overseas to share her art, Suki seeks to draw attention to the beauty in the decay of urban walls and the disparity of quiet images against the busy world of city life.

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They Are Redheads | Not Deadheads!

Redheads is an iconic Australian top-selling brand of matches originally manufactured in Victoria by Bryant & May match factory at Church Street, Richmond.

  • The factory was opened in 1909 by The Honourable Alfred Deakin, Prime Minister of Australia.
  • The Redhead name applies to the red striking heads of the matches which were introduced to Australia in 1946.
  • The Redhead image or logo on the matchbox cover depicts the head and shoulder of a red-headed woman.
  • This image has had four major updates since its inception with a number of special issues produced.

The pop art-like design has been imitated and reproduced to form collages and memorabilia art works presented in an Andy Warhol influential pop-art style.

    • Redheads matches are now manufactured in Sweden by Swedish Match.

Strike a Light!

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Pop Art | Dot Art | Appears to Tear the Heart

American pop art artist Roy Fox Lichtenstein was born on October 27, 1923 in New York, into an upper-middle-class Jewish family. He is known as a leading figure in the pop-art movement which focussed on parody; where his work was heavily influenced by both popular advertising and the comic book style.

  • Lichtenstein first became interested in art and design as a hobby whilst at school.
  • In his last academic year in 1939, he enrolled in summer classes at the Art Students League of New York, where he worked under the tutelage of Reginald Marsh.
  • After military service (1943-1946) he returned to Ohio State College as a teacher and later taught at New York State and Rutgers University.
  • At Rutgers, Lichenstein met Allan Kaprow, who opened his eyes to the artistic possibilities inherent in consumerism; and from about 1960 he developed what later  became known as Pop Art in which images are painted in the style of the comics strip.

Lichenstein’s trademark technique is based on the 1950s-1960s comic book oversized Ben-Day Dots for his screening process style; synonymous with his highly stylized paintings.  in which the tiny dots of colour were used to create graduations of colour in the drawings.

  • Readers of the comics were not supposed to notice the dots, but Lichtenstein exaggerated them so viewers were forced to focus on this and reflect on how it affected the artwork.
  • To make the dots, Lichtenstein applied oil paint, using a plastic-bristled dog grooming brush. Later he applied dots to the canvas through a pre-punched metal stencil.
  • D*Face (born 1976) is a top UK street artist, heavily influenced by pop art and Lichtenstein’s work.

Lichenstein died in New York on September 29, 1997.

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On the Street Man with Beastman

Sydney based prolific street artist Beastman (Bradley Eastman) is influenced by beauty and symbolism behind nature’s repetitive geometric and symmetrical repetitions, glyphs and tribal images.

  • Beastman’s instantly-recognisable style has graced walls throughout Australia including a commission to paint the frontage of Radio 4ZZZ building in Brisbane.
  • He is represented in streets and galleries around the world, including an exhibition at the Inner State Gallery in Detroit. This unnamed work, painted in 2013, was a “fun, spontaneous, improvised mural” that has become a city landmark.
  • Beastman has also exhibited  overseas in London, Berlin and New Zealand.

“When I was younger I just wanted to draw monsters and stupid stuff,” Eastman has said. “As I’ve grown older my taste in art has become more mature. I am more interested in geometry, balance and colour theory.”

    • Find out more about Beastman at his website.

Hey man, let’s feast man!

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The Glorio of Loureiro | In the Springtime of His New Moon

[Images: The Spirit of the New Moon (1888), The Spirit of the Southern Cross (1888) and Spring (1891) by Artur Loureiro.]

Portuguese painter, Artur José de Sousa Loureiro was born on 11 February 1853, in Porto, Portugal. Lourerio attended the Escola Superior de Belas-Artes do Porto, where he studied under João António Correia. In 1875, he went to Rome with the support of his patron Delfim Guedes (1842-1895), the future Count of Almedina. In 1879, he moved to Paris with a scholarship to study at the École des Beaux Arts; living in the Latin Quarter and obtaining a position in the studios of Alexandre Cabanel.

Loureiro exhibited at the Salon from 1880 to 1882, along with his fellow painters from Portugal. While in France, he met Marie Huybers (the sister of novelist Jessie Couvreur) and married her, even though marriage violated the terms of his scholarship.

Loureiro sought another scholarship, but illness prevented him from submitting an entry. He then moved to London, where his exhibits attracted attention, but his health required a warmer climate. By 1884, both he and Marie emigrated to Australia, settling in Melbourne. The following year, Loureiro joined the first Australian Art Association, which merged with the Victorian Artists Society in 1888.

  • Loureiro became a “Professor of Design” at the Presbyterian Ladies Academy; sat on several art juries; and was named Inspector for the National Gallery of Victoria.
  • After Marie’s death in 1901, he returned to Porto, where he established a studio at the “Crystal Palace” (an exhibition hall modelled after the one in London). It quickly became a gathering place for local artists and their students.
  • His only son was killed during World War I.

A few months before his death on 7 July 1932, in Terras de Bouro, Loureiro was awarded the Order of Saint James of the Sword. He died suddenly while on a landscape painting sojourn in the countryside.

Loureiro | In the Springtime of His New Moon

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These models knelt for Albert Edelfelt

Finnish artist Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt  was born on 21 July 1854 in Porvoo, Finland. He began his formal studies of art in 1869 at the Drawing School of the Finnish Art Society; and continued as a student of Adolf von Becker (Antwerp Academy of Art), and later with Jean-Leon Gerome (École Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris).

  • In Paris he shared a studio with the American, Julian Alden Weir who introduced him to John Singer Sargent. After Paris, Edelfelt studied at St. Petersburg, Russia.

Edelfelt was one of the first Finnish artists to achieve international fame. He enjoyed considerable success in Paris and was one of the founders of the Realist art movement in Finland.  Among his students was Léon Bakst. Sadly, Edelfelt died on 18 August, 1905 at the age of 51 years.

  • A Finnish commemorative coin celebrating the 150th anniversary of his Edelfelt’s birth was minted in 2004.  The reverse face of the coin shows an embossed image of his face.

Is it a great painting? – A penny for your thoughts.

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