City of Melbourne officials, including Lord Mayor Sally Capp, have formally referred the paintbombing incident in the iconic Hosier Lane to police, as investigations into just who was behind the incident and why it was committed ramp up.
Earlier, footage of the paintbombing emerged, showing a group of men wearing masks descending on the iconic street art mecca and almost completely covering it with paint; the group using fire extinguishers loaded with paint to spray across the laneway’s walls while a small film crew captured their efforts.
The incident was also filmed by bystanders at around 7:30pm on Saturday evening, and has since been shared across social media.
Masked men have armed themselves with fire extinguishers and sprayed over the precious graffiti art in Melbourne’s iconic Hosier Lane. @cityofmelbourne looking into it. Video courtesy of Instagram/joe_musco @10NewsFirstMelb #springst @10NewsFirst (and thanks @RossAndJohn 4 tip) pic.twitter.com/Shbrb26OA6
— Simon Love (@SimoLove) February 9, 2020
In a short media press conference earlier this afternoon, Mayor Capp asserted that the City had registered a complaint with Victoria Police, claiming that damage done to the laneway’s cobblestone pavements was “significant.”
A group of vandals covered Hosier Lane with paint over the weekend.
This is unacceptable and is not in keeping with the spirit of Hosier Lane.
— City of Melbourne (@cityofmelbourne) February 10, 2020
On social media, Capp went further, calling the incident an “act of vandalism,” and stated that the act was “not in keeping with the spirit of Hosier Lane.”
We see this act as vandalism particularly given the damage they’ve done to the pavement and cobblestones. Council contractors attended Hosier Lane this morning to clean the cobblestones and curbing. The @cityofmelbourne has reported the incident to Victoria Police. 📷 Arn Cart
— Sally Capp – Lord Mayor of Melbourne (@LordMayorMelb) February 10, 2020
This afternoon, police officers were spotted exiting Culture Kings, which is located in the laneway itself. Police officials also confirmed via statement that an official investigation was underway.
Police on scene after vandals sprayed over street art on iconic #HosierLane. Culture Kings manager Chase commissioned the Lizzo mural here – says the act is disappointing, but part of the culture. pic.twitter.com/7vEYMe862M
— Patrick Murrell (@pamurrell) February 9, 2020
The statement confirmed that “a criminal damage incident” was being investigated, and urged anyone who may have witnessed the incident to come forward.
It’s worth noting here that this isn’t the first time something like this has taken place. In 2013 artist Adrian Doyle painted the entire Rutledge Lane, which connects to Hosier Lane, in blue paint, in a project that was not only spurred on by the corporately-funded Street-At-As-Advertisement phenomena which has again become a more prominent feature of Hosier Lane in recent years, but in a project that actually had City Of Melbourne backing.
The project was designed as a “reset” of the laneway’s art culture, was aimed at encouraging new artists to step up and fill the suddenly blank spaces, and even included painting ground-level surfaces, including pavement and cobblestones.
Empty Nursery Blue, by Adrian Doyle in Rutledge Lane, Melbourne. pic.twitter.com/zIps7EBUqP
— Clinton Moore คลินตัน มอร์ (@clintonjlmoore) August 26, 2013
This most recent act in Hosier Lane, however, is a much more sinister, criminal. At least as far as City of Melbourne officials – who, unlike the 2013 project, did not permit it – are concerned.