If you live in Melbourne, you’ve seen the work of street art collective Everfresh – whether you realise it or not. While the city has long been a mecca for street art aficionados, over the past decade our town’s distinction for housing some of the world’s finest graffiti has shifted from the subculture shadows into the spotlight of mainstream recognition. Government-commissioned tourism campaigns now proudly refer to our city’s “laneway culture” and even politicians are being forced to – sometimes awkwardly – acknowledge street art’s primacy in Melbourne’s contemporary identity. While some may cringe at the slide away from outsider status towards populist marketing clichés, the swing is a product of the sheer artistic force of Melbourne’s most dedicated and talented late night aerosol marauders, amongst which few crews have had as much impact as Everfresh.
This month’s publication of an Everfresh retrospective through Melbourne University Publishing’s Miegunyah Press – an imprint known for award-winning art and photography titles – is further evidence of Everfresh’s increasing critical stature. Beautifully designed and printed, Blackbook (The Studio and Streets: 2004-2010) is an exquisite collection of some of Everfresh’s most iconic and inspired work. Some you’ll recognise (Rone’s giant female faces, Phib’s tiki explosions, which practically cover Fitzroy), but a lot you won’t, including members’ individual forays into Tokyo, Mexico, Sao Paolo and LA. The photography, combined with individual profiles of all nine Everfresh artists, offers a candid insight into the largely unknown world of some of Melbourne’s most respected underground talents.
Apart from its cultural significance, Blackbook is an art-book in its own right – an arresting showcase of some of Melbourne’s most inventive contemporary artists. Blackbook’s ultimate success, however, is in revealing the significant role that Everfresh has played in defining Melbourne’s current popular identity.