Melbourne has lots of arcades. Melbourne has lots of street art. In the past, the meeting of both tended to be accidental, but a new shopping precinct is deliberately (and spectacularly) combining the two.
West Side Place is a new retail precinct on Spencer Street that is pitching itself as Australia's first "artcade". The site is part retail space, part public art gallery, and features large-scale, immersive installations from leading Australian artists like Reko Rennie, Rone, Lisa King, Adnate, Meggs, George Rose, Mayonaize and John Aslanidis.
The project was conceived prior to the first lockdowns, but its launch following a grim 2020 for Melbourne is nevertheless well timed. Key works across the precinct include Reko Rennie's 225-square-metre mural honouring the Kamilaroi people, Adnate's massive portraits that pay tribute to Indigenous peoples around the world, and one of Rone's signature artistically dilapidated rooms.
Between the artworks, West Side Place also features a café, called Merriment, that features several murals by artist Lisa King that give a contemporary nod to art history's vanitas and memento mori paintings. The precinct is the work of developer Far East Consortium, who partnered with renowned art collective Juddy Roller to complete the space. Director of Juddy Roller Shaun Hossack says: "Both retail and the arts have suffered greatly from the consequences of the pandemic and this unique collaboration is designed to invigorate and support both sectors."
West Side Place is open to the public from November 13, with the works available to view for roughly six months before retail stores move in. You can visit West Side Place at 250 Spencer Street, Melbourne (between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale streets).