Heritage has long
been acknowledged as
the ‘life blood’ of the
Boniface & Fowler, 1993
Over the last two decades, both graffiti and street art have become increasingly entangled in debates about cultural heritage, both in terms of the practical dimensions of cleaning regimes and preservation strategies and more philosophical questions about cultural value, memory and the role of cultural institutions and archives. My research in this area began with In Praise of 70K: Cultural Heritage and Graffiti Style (2006) which tracked early attempts by government agencies to grant heritage recognition and explored the related link between the rise in the acceptability of street art and certain anti-aesthetic tendencies in graffiti.
As part of this research I provided advice to agencies around the world on graffiti and cultural heritage and conducted some major audits and graffiti, street art and cultural value for the City of Melbourne and the City of Stonnington. I have given lectures and tours on these issues to Masters students from the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation (CMCCC) at the University of Melbourne and to staff from Heritage Victoria. I was also involved with debates about the preservation of a Keith Haring mural in Melbourne.
With Robyn Sloggett, Director of the CCMC, I am developing a broader research agenda in this area, which considers examines street art as a form of cultural heritage in a range of sites in Melbourne, Timor-Leste and China.
MacDowall, L. (2012), ‘Keith Haring and Melbourne’s Street Art Scene,’ in Mathews, H. (ed.), Caterpillars & Computers: Keith Haring in Australia, Melbourne: Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
Download Cultural Heritage Lecture notes here