Feature – Adrian Doyle & Empty-Nursery Blue @ Rutledge Lane – Melbourne


From the early hours of the morning, to late in the evening, Adrian Doyle donned his suit and threw himself up a scissor lift in one of the most audacious street art actions we’ve seen here in Melbourne for a long time.

Doyle transformed the entirety of Rutledge Lane (not Hosier Lane) in blue – covering pieces, tags, bins  – even the ground, with a single covering.

“Todays piece was not a buff,” Doyle remarked on facebook, “it was a burner!”

Love it or hate it, this is the only thing that people are talking about here in Melbourne right now, so we thought we’d put everything together on it and let you make your own opinion.

Doyle just posted up this small essay to explain Empty Nursery Blue – sometimes context can be key …


Image credit above Adrian Lagniton. Images below David Russell

Empty Nursery Blue Lane Way…
By Adrian Doyle

Houses are a major influence on my aesthetics and imagery. Most of the important events in my early life were focused around our quarter acre block in the heart of suburbia. We had an outback toilet, complete with its own dunny man that came every week to change the bucket. We went through numerous above ground pools and sadly, many pets. My house was not really different than any other suburban house. Yet it was my world for many years, a curated world, in which I learnt social skills and perceived normality from my parents.

I watched from a very young age as my parents struggled with house payments and debt collectors. They worked so hard to pay the bills and bring up 5 kids. They worked in jobs they hated with little respect from their bosses. They married in their teens, and did all the expected norms and learnt behaviour passed down from their parents. The house was a symbol of their hard work.

This experience made me reflect on my childhood home, and the hold it had over me, my family and my art. When my parents eventually lost the house to the bank, my parents moved four hours away to a small cottage in East Gippsland. But the grief and pain followed them. I began to play with the idea of creating a colour that represents my childhood and my suburban experiences. Was it possible to create a colour that could capture that kind of experience?

So I decided to come up with my own colour. I named it: Empty-Nursery Blue.

The way I decided to create Empty-Nursery Blue was by sitting in the studio and creating hundreds of different blues until I found the one that expressed my experiences the most. It was a baby blue that had hints of mauve in it. It’s a beautiful colour, a bright pastel. This colour expresses the feeling that something has been disturbed. All is not quite right. I took my disturbing yet beautiful colour to a paint lab and worked out its recipe.

But what good was Empty-Nursery Blue, if it was without a context. I needed to find something to paint to physicalise the concept of the colour.

As mentioned above, after losing their house, my parents moved to an island in the Gippsland Lakes. It’s a significant removal from the realities of suburban Frankston. Their house is alone in the landscape, only bushes and trees to keep it company. Not even a bridge links the island to the nearest shop. This physical removal from the past does not automatically come with emotional removal.


This is why I decided to paint my parents’ new house Empty-Nursery Blue.

Empty-Nursery Blue once placed in context became a symbol of a collective past.

Surrounding the new house with the memory and emotions of an experience that ruptured my family’s suburban dream.

In recent years I have spent much of my time lost deep in the Melbourne Street Art world. Street art has become a major part of my life and the lane-ways have become my world. I have lived and breathed art all my life. My art, however, is conceived of and formed from my past experiences. I cannot exist today without recognizing my roots in the past.


Thus, I would like to incorporate my past and my present in a Street Art piece using the colour Empty-Nursery Blue, and only this colour. By using Empty-Nursery Blue to cover Hosier Lane, I am symbolically ‘coating’ my present with my past, it is reminder to me and anyone who is living, that you are a product of your former experiences, and you should be reminded of them as you work your way through your present and into your future.


By doing this, I am claiming that a colour in its pure form can be street art or graffiti. This is a great conceptual link from fine art to street art, a link that is often lacking in the Melbourne Street Art scene. By bridging this gap, I hope to expose more people not only to Street Art, but also to the importance of art in general.”


The work was limited to Rutledge lane, and was an artistic work that didn’t involve the Melbourne City Council, or the council buffing any work. And no, this doesn’t mean that people can’t paint in there anymore, or that its being reserved or anything – quite the contrary, in fact – it’s business as usual, go forth and bust out your best chromies.

Having seen it and walked through there, it really does grab your attention in a  confronting, eerie way … this is one of those things that will, and certainly has, divided opinion, and it’s up to everyone to decide how they feel about it  – but that doesn’t mean that your opinion is any more valid than those that disagree with you, or Doyles opinion, for that matter – isn’t that exactly what art is supposed to be all about? For me, well, I can see both sides of it – but I can’t wait to see this shit get bombed out – it’ll be back to normal within the week.

You have to give it to Doyle, the man has balls and has done something that’s created an interesting furore.


Image via Dean Sunshine

…. on another note, and just because people have been asking, Invurt was not associated with this project. We do, however, have some pretty cool plans coming up down at Hosier lane that we’ll make sure you know all about really soon – there wont be any surprises there … ;)

Here’s all of the photos we got today …

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About the Post

Post By

For the past ten years, Fletcher Andersen (Facter) has cut his teeth writing for a variety of street press and music magazines. Drawing on his years of writing experience, and as an artist himself, Facter founded Invurt with the aim of promoting artistic events, and the established and emerging Australasian urban, street, illustrative, underground and low brow artists that partake in them. Follow him on Instagram @facter, or go like his facebook page, and check out his website, Irikanji.

  • guestygest

    I don’t really like the use of personal tragedy-story to justify this art wank. colour is not conceptual art. art has to stand on its’ own merit, rather than being sold with an essay. and if the lane needed a repaint, just freaking repaint it and invite street artists to cover it again.

  • John

    Awesome work. Love it.

  • roken

    wow.. it’s funny how in anything graffiti related, most of the writers (respected and not) always say along the lines off “it’s better then looking at a blank wall!”

    classic trend hopping fuck head trying to be some big shot straight away after no real background in graffiti.. mr.brainwash tried to do it and I would in anyones face who would even consider him anything close to a graffiti artist.

    fuck. dudes dad is probably a cop.

  • HURSTYlineboyz-HLB

    only steal iz real ya toy cunts. do a fucking tag in a legal lane in tha city and then ball ur eyes out wen it gets buffd. you call urself wrighterz u all a bunch of puzzys. HURSTY 4 LYF DOGS.

  • whatajoke

    Adrian Doyle, you have destroyed what was an amazing laneway that breathed the life and spirit of so many of melbourne’s great street artists. You sure did go over some nice work and what you call junk or scribbles was art in itself, it was life and you destroyed. You are as bad as the council that goes over sick art with a bland grey. By the way, that blue colour really sucks! You had no right to do this. Typical that this poor attempt at what you call art was commissioned by the city of melbourne and that pig Robert Doyle. You’re a joke, hes a joke. Why do you pretend to talk like you are from the streets in the video? are you taking the piss out of anyone who is really in the scene? It certainly comes across that way. YOU HAVE NO RESPECT. This is why we can’t let people like Robert Doyle define what street art is! I’m not a writer, just passionate about street art and you sir are a loser.

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  • Michael Junker

    i agree with all the people commenting on high art ballbagery but what an exciting place it is right now.?

  • Doyle

    Hey Guys…I did not mean to cause any issues… and disrespect…. I also believe that street art and graff are way different… I always thought of hosier and Rutledge to be street lanes…. I did not meant to offend any of the writers out there…. respect…. Doyle

    • abducta

      Adrian, I for one enjoyed your work and the corresponding fallout and discussions. Others may disagree but I for one view rutledge as a community wall and as such open for all comers. I don’t think it can be classed as a buffed wall as it is not a location that has been earned just used.

  • TannedEars

    i know doyle well. a few important things:
    He is obsessed by his art. he thinks deeply about all his artwork. yes, this obsessiveness can lead to selfishness occasionally, however, that can be and has been said about very many artists throughout history. and it is worth thinking about why this has disappointed so many people. those of you saying doyle ruined history; that was done by young writers a thousand times over before doyle did the ‘blue’. except for the mick porter faces (there are plenty more around the place) and maybe some other minimal stuff, the whole place was thrashed. which looks fuckin good IMO, graffiti writing is the origin and will remain so. but it doesn’t mean doyle should respect some teenager writing his wack shit a thousand times with a united can when that kid wouldn’t respect his. that is what rutledge has become. that is why rutledge is interesting. because shit gets destroyed there, no exceptions. here, the ultimate contradiction of graffiti is exposed: writers are upset by adrian doyle ‘imposing’ his ideas on their culture. but then, it is totally normal for writers to rock throwies on anything that isn’t graff. shit, i was in richmond the other day, and dudes got little texta tags on those fucking wooden boards sitting opposite the corner hotel, boards that are probably 20 years old and have pieces from DMA. not all writers do this, but many do. there is an inherent contradiction in graffiti.
    all this said, i can see why people would be pissed off by this. if i didn’t know doyle, i would probably think he was a dick too. and choosing rutledge as the spot for this is very attention seeking. he isn’t a writer or a street artist. and that’s probably, and understandably, why so many of you are angry. but i know this guy. yes, he can be arrogant, but he does think when he makes art. he has a long history of large scale installations like this. as far as people saying a colour can’t be art, you need to use your head a little more. and isn’t it a good thing that something has happened in melb’s scene which has ignited so much debate? graffiti in our city is still killing it, melbourne heads are active as hell. but the street art scene in melb was getting pretty fucking boring. nothing with any meaning. and i love phibs, but complaining about going over the rone/phibs thing? come on man, rone’s shit looks like an ad for fucking pepsi.

  • not happy Jan

    ok, artists can paint over your blue monstrosity but the bluestone pavers you ruined with your paint can never be fixed, the natural bluestone edging and pathway gave the alley character and added to the street art, now it will always be blue…someone should go in and use paint stripper to bring back the ground to its former historical state….and charge this idiot who did it for the clean up, also the way you have painted unevenly up the walls to just where you can reach and up and down like a rollercoaster looks terrible

    • tan

      have a whinge about some bluestone. you obviously don’t do or understand graffiti, continue being a passive onlooker

  • STFU

    ITT: a bunch of toys whining about another toy going over pieces in toy alley. Guarantee 100% that no writer who actually matters gives a shit about this.

  • KindergartenCop

    To call it art is a stretch. Seriously a friend was there a while back and well instead of getting to experience any edgy art was witness to an “Adrian Doyle” masterpiece of giving all who rocked up in the area a spray can to write/draw what they want all over the existing graffitti.
    Now he paints a whole area (badly I might say) as well as the road and wonderful bluestone noted to the city of Melbourne. Hardly art, more like a personal pr stunt. Obviously he has no issues of respect or such for others work but happy to grab headlines for yourself.
    Perhaps the Blue peril should be moved to the park off the main run…it will be welcomed by the yellow peril artwork which has also been moved. ..at least they are complementary colors should be a good mix!
    Personally this blue has just got me seeing red.
    If one wants to do such a project of letting others experience street art or completely dominate an area with what they see as art, well let amateur hour take place in another laneway, another precinct…another state….

    • tannz

      ‘edgy art’? man, street art ain’t that. for art to be edgy, it needs to make a statement. most street art is average drawings of quaint, insubstantial fairytale imagery that says nothing other than ‘i’m a street artist’. everyone who complains about the blue not being art has an exceptionally narrow mind. i’d say doyle’s piece is some of the only challenging street art in melbourne in the past decade. think beyond the fame argument, think about what doyle’s work might actually mean

      • Alessandro Quartz

        Thanks for your explanation Adrian. Keep up defending yourself on this blog.

        • Tannn

          Not adrian buddy, but a close friend. stick to twitter.

          • Alessandro Quartz

            Thanks for exposing yourself Adrian.

  • tan

    hahaha this is getting ridiculous. STFU just said, real writers probably couldn’t care less. anyone who actually thinks that rutledge lane had ‘a lot of great art’ obviously doesn’t do graffiti or know who in melbourne deserves the title of ‘writer’. there is the occasional young fella who does a decent piece (and, since the blue, shem of course!), but by and large shit is weak. all the whingers who do write would be 99% 20 years old or younger, and think they can be spokespeople for graffiti culture cos they rocked one shit galve or tagged in a burner’s background. i wouldn’t be surprised if some of the older, real writers out there end up thinking this is all just funny.

    • Alessandro Quartz

      Go get an education. This is unreadable.

      • Tann

        Mr. Alessandro Quartz, it is evident from your weak-minded, lack-lustre, sycophantic complaints, that you are the one in need of an education. Additionally, your apparent inability to recognise colloquial graffiti language suggests that you have no knowledge of the culture/movement which you seem to be so feebly defending. Surely, your assertion that my comment is unreadable, really only reveals that your mind does not compute casual language quickly enough to discern its meaning. I am lucky enough to have had a fairly good education. Your comical and pathetic defense of something you are obviously not involved with places you firmly in the realm of dumb cunt.

        • Alessandro Quartz


  • Apollo62

    Well done Adrian Doyle for having the balls to do something that will rejuvenate street art in Rutledge Lane. Pay no heed to the haters who cry foul and attempt to label scribble and poor art with history as a means of justifying their petty outrage. Art is open to individual interpretation but seems restricted amongst those who make juvenile comments and threats of retribution. They decry your seeming disrespect yet fail to respect an individuals’ right to freedom of expression.
    Those who can see the true worth of your action can appreciate what it was that you were trying to accomplish all along. Only the artistically weak and narrow minded will mock and jeer you with their expletive laden tirades posted here.

    • mh

      well said!

  • Empty coin purse blue

    Also no one in the fine art world cares about Doyle either. I’m not sure what expression we would use for him, but it would probably be analogous to “toy”

    • tannnn

      Historically, a great many important artists have been ignored by the establishment. generally, the ‘fine art world’ is a vacuous joke in itself.

  • Empty coin purse blue

    Also conceptual art tends to use these things called concepts. No conceptual artist that isn’t the equivalent of a toy would see this as anything other then nonsense.

  • empty businessman blue

    Perhaps the thing to do would be to boycott the lane. Leave it to wither and die, find a new area and make it your own. If your getting approval from the lord mayor then street art has been co-opted.

  • Il Duce

    boo hoo, have a little teary everyone, take a deep breath, then continue yr half-arsed council-sanctioned “street art” over the top and practice yr twee “toy” street art lingo and be comfortable knowing that yr all part of the same joke and big Mr.Mayor Doyle loves you all equally adorning the cover of promotional material for “marvellous Melbourne”

  • the fabricant

    I didn’t realize it was typical of paint shops to mix custom colors in branded buckets – I wonder if dulux is aware of this example of supposedly indirect advertising.
    If the council wasn’t involved, who funded the bulk mixing of paint, logistics, scissor lift hire, air compressor and paint gear, and additional painters? curious

    • Hiey

      RMIT, as the article says.

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