Easy it is now to find Melbourne's laneways plastered, those that are, with graffiti. Finding subtleties takes time. It takes a readiness to stop and a readiness to watch, to listen and to absorb.
Heffernan Lane, in Melbourne's Chinatown, is nondescript, an alley, really, full of grimy back-doors...
...but it's here that artist Evangelos Sakaris was commissioned by the City of Melbourne in 2001-2002 to install his innoccuous and unexpected group of apparent street signs, 'Word and Way.'
A commercial hub, there've been, of course, in this knot of streets, all sorts of signs mounted to keep the traffic moving. How would I be, or even want to be, a nuisance here, now, gazing at these wonderful texts?
This is street art that makes you stop. The delight in finding a message not designed to be practical, but to open your heart is more than disarming -
- it puts a spring in your step. A cloud floats above the rational world. You aren't going to have the message thrust in your face. It's waiting for you.
What's so charming to me about this sharing of ideas, in a corner pedestrians otherwise avoid unless obliged, is the inconspicuous naivety, here where the bricks are sullied with years of labour and worldliness.
Art happens, and all of us have a contribution.
"If you open yourself to loss, the lost are glad to see you." How much I connect with this, I cannot tell you. To hear someone else say it, blows me away.
Right now I'm reading Byron Rogers' biography of the eccentric Welsh poet R.S.Thomas. His words, too, those of the poet, go straight to the heart of what is felt within what is visible.
I'm sure he'd have got a chuckle here; I'm sure he would have felt calmed in recognising an approach, a philosophy? sensible and caring.
This is art seriously un-serious. It gets added to, or bits fall away. No matter, it's been involved in the lives of us, here, wandering the streets, tired, perhaps, of advertising and warnings, of being sensible and of clocking into language as if it were made to define the world, instead of to lead us into it...
The work of the artist resides within a locale forever shifting. New work intervenes. I'm so very grateful to live in a city where art is allowed, somehow encouraged, enabled.
"The softest overcomes the hardest." Inarguably, that is the case here.