Hosier Lane, one of Melbourne’s most iconic tourism destinations, has been painted over during a senseless vandalism attack over the weekend.
The incident, which took place on Saturday evening, saw the vast majority of the lane’s famed artworks covered in spray paint, with structural damage also being suffered by the location.
As the ABC reports, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp explained that the perpetrators are currently being sought by police, with their actions being deemed “unacceptable and […] not in keeping with the spirit of Hosier Lane.”
“Melbourne is the street-art capital of Australia. We recognise the importance of street art to our city’s culture, particularly as an attraction for local and overseas visitors,” she explained in a statement. “We see this act as vandalism, particularly given the damage they’ve done to the pavement and cobblestones.
“The City of Melbourne has reported the incident to Victoria Police.”
“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.”
Footage of the incident has surfaced online, showing a large number of individuals disguised by masks painting the walls of Hosier Lane with what appears to be fire extinguishers.
— Iskhandar Razak (@Isk137) February 9, 2020
Though often condemned by some as being a shrine to vandalism, Hosier Lane has long served as an outlet for street artists to share their works in a public forum, with artworks influenced by politics or pop culture frequently appearing on the walls of the lane.
Considered a must-see destination amongst both local and international tourists, Hosier Lane has recently played host to a number of high-profile artworks, including a dedication to comedian Celeste Barber, and a tribute to US musician Lizzo, which had been commissioned by the manager of adjacent business Culture Kings.
Most famously, the lane previously hosted a stencil image from anonymous UK artist Banksy, though it was removed by council cleaners in 2010. At the time, Melbourne art expert Ken McGregor likened such an activity to ”painting over the Mona Lisa.”
While Victorian Police are investigating the incident, it likely won’t take too long before local street artists rejuvenate the iconic location with fresh artwork.