Culture and heritage

Flash Forward: epic artists transform 40 laneways

The street artist Gonketa standing in front of their work.

Wind your way through 40 Melbourne laneways to discover giant manga-inspired murals, fairytale landscapes and Thai temple art, reimagined.

Flash Forward showcases new work by more than 80 artists, including Jaycob Campbell, also known as Gonketa, whose stunning mural soars over Rainbow Alley.

Gonketa uses multiple mediums and canvasses to create artwork inspired by comic books, pop-art and manga. The Flash Forward mural is his largest-ever project.

‘I want to add more colour into the world. My Flash Forward location is called Rainbow Alley, but it was strikingly grey when I arrived, so I wanted my artwork to be bold and bright,’ Gonketa said.

‘It’s great that we can help make Melbourne’s streets more beautiful. I love creating murals, and I hope to create more of these around the city.’

Born deaf, Gonketa’s first language is Australian Sign Language. His Flash Forward artwork depicts some of Auslan’s 66 official hand shapes, each of which is used for numerous signs, to shine a light on Deaf culture.

‘Auslan is a rich and expressive language, created by the Deaf community. It is not only about signs, but also your body language and facial expressions,’ Gonketa said.

‘When I travelled through Europe, I found no barriers when I met deaf people. While we may not share the same sign language, our tenacity with visual communication means that we can exchange ideas very freely.

‘I want passers-by to look at the hands on my mural, and look at their own, and be inspired to learn to sign. Many people don’t realise how often they are already using their hands to communicate in day-to-day life.’

Gonketa at work on his artwork, using a cherry picker

Gonketa at work

‘You don’t have to become fluent, but you can learn the basics of Auslan through community courses at places like Magic Hands and Open That Door, or go more in-depth at Melbourne Polytechnic.’

Follow @gonketa_ on Instagram for updates on his work and exhibitions.

Flash Forward is the largest revitalisation of CBD laneways in Melbourne’s history, creating more than 160 jobs for artists, designers, music producers, lighting specialists, technicians and maintenance workers.

The jobs are supported by the Victorian Government’s $500 million Working for Victoria Fund, which has helped more than 13,500 people across the state find jobs during the pandemic.


Six fascinating artworks

Flash Forward involves more than 80 creative works, from murals to albums, which can be found online and across the city. Here’s a small sample of what’s on offer:

  • an intricate pen-and-ink fairy-tale landscape by Shawn Lu in Langs Lane
  • four light boxes that tell the story of colonialism by Aretha Brown in Meyers Place
  • temple art meets contemporary stencilling by Bundit Puangthong in Rose Lane
  • chaotic black and white graphics by Bootleg Comics in Crown Place
  • a web of neural pathways painted by Prue Stevenson in Little William Street
  • shifting colour and pattern by Nick Azidis in Highlander Lane.

Browse the full program at Flash Forward.

Share this story

You may also like
Meet some of Melbourne’s youngest buskers

Meet some of Melbourne’s youngest buskers

Meet Daniel and Jade – some of Melbourne’s youngest buskers. At just 11 and 15 years old, this musical sibling duo is taking the city streets by storm. Performing covers of popular chart-toppers on their saxophone and violin, as well as their own original and...

Spectacular photo festival seeks new snaps

Spectacular photo festival seeks new snaps

Be swept away by astounding images and see your artwork on show in the next instalment of Australia’s largest photography festival. PHOTO brings spectacular photography from artists across Australia and around the world to the streets of Melbourne in a series of...

Imaginations run wild in ArtPlay New Ideas Lab

Imaginations run wild in ArtPlay New Ideas Lab

Create fantastical art alongside children with limitless imaginations through ArtPlay’s New Ideas Lab. We're seeking applications from artists from Monday 13 February. ArtPlay has supported more than 300 artists to co-create 60 magical projects with local children and...

Beyond the bookshelf: how libraries change lives

Beyond the bookshelf: how libraries change lives

Our libraries are places full of joy and creativity, where the future is now. City of Melbourne libraries have evolved in many ways over recent years. Demand for books remains high, and use of digital resources like ebooks, audiobooks, films, music and games surged...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the City of Melbourne by subscribing to the Melbourne newsletter.

You have successfully subscribed!