Some graffiti artists really take it to a new level with their work. The artist I have chosen is one of those.
Regan Tamanui aka Ha-ha is a self-taught artist who ‘started off by spray painting elaborate stencils on the street and has since graduated to the gallery’. Born in Hamilton, New Zealand, Ha-ha is one of the masterminds behind Blender Studios, the hub of the street art movement in Australia’s graffiti capital, Melbourne, which he now calls home. In 2003, Ha-ha ran stencil gallery Early Independent Space, which alongside Blender Studios paved the way for many of Australia’s leading street art figures including Nu-Rock, Vexta, Civil, Dlux, 70K and many more. Tamanui’s skills and cutting technique are still envied by many as the artist does not use Photoshop or digital tricks to produce his amazing figures and characters to comment on the power of mass media within Australian popular culture in refined stencils involving up to 40 layers. Although he has taken on reality TV, the religion of sport and society’s obsession with fame and fortune, it might be his stencil of bushranger Ned Kelly that we’ll never ever forget. “[Ned Kelly] was like the Robin Hood of the southern hemisphere. He was for the oppressed to look towards as someone who said no to the tyranny of the British Empire; that is why Ned Kelly will never die,” he once told The Australian. He is also known for saying street artists are the ‘bushrangers of the 21st century.’ I couldn’t agree more.
The urban jungle of Melbourne offers plenty of sights and sounds for those new to the city but not many cities treat graffiti the way Melbourne does. Often considered an eyesore in some countries, Melbourne embraces street art as a means for people to creatively express themselves using an alternative canvas.
I see graffiti as an opportunity for people to express their views in a safe way. I guess there are some instances where messy unskilled graffiti can look ugly, but then so can some buildings that are constructed. This is an example of pointless graffiti.
As they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me it is worth some bad for the revealation of enormous and incredible talent that comes through this medium. Sometimes this is the only way radical views can be expressd to shake up society. An example of this was in Yarra in Melbourne where some graffiti artists were commissioned by the council to create a yobbo drinking beer and eating a meat pie. There were a lot of complaints as residents didn’t like to see this archetype being displayed so publicly. They preferred to stay in denial and keep this uglier side of Australian culture out of the public eye.