Culture and heritage

Flash Forward: epic artists transform 40 laneways

31 January 2022

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.

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