Marrickville in Sydney’s Inner West has been named No10 in the top 40 coolest neighbourhoods in the world by Time Out – and, despite living a very short train ride away I’m ashamed to say, I haven’t really explored it properly – and so, last weekend, I decided to start to rectify that – and my first stop was an alley full of street art, that actually made my mouth drop open.
Here’s why you must add Faversham Lane to your list of things to do in Marrickville – and why it’s a must-visit for Sydney street art lovers.
I first heard about Faversham Lane via a friend on Facebook. I say, a friend, I’ve never actually met him, but he’s a friend of a friend and he does some really cool walks around Sydney and so, I broke my ‘if I haven’t met you in person, it’s a no’ rule when he submitted a friend request.
One day, Michael, for that is his name, put up a few pictures of some cool celebrity murals that he’d found in this place called Faversham Lane and so, I decided to go check out it – I was expecting maybe 5-6 murals.
I arrived at the location on the map and there in front of me was a small wall of black and white images – Yoda, Spock, Debbie Harry and more. Each of them was beautifully painted and, interestingly, actually seem to look even better through a phone screen than they did in real life – which is quite rare.
I snapped away thinking this was what I had come to see, but off to my left were some other coloured murals and so I decided to walk around the corner…
There must be over 100 paintings in this tiny industrial lane 99.9 per cent of them of a famous face. Every shutter is covered, every wall is covered and, there are even panels of tiny portraits lining the base of each wall – with spaces for more to come. It’s mindblowing.
I walked up and down about four times and every time I spotted a different image.
What I didn’t know until I got home though was that all of the paintings are the work of one artist – Stuart Sale.
I also discovered that if I’d gone the weekend before, I’d have found a party in progress showing off Sale’s work and officially launching the Laneway on the Sydney street art scene. Bah, I like a party!
Apparently, Stuart is British, which does explain some of the images that might not mean a lot to most Australians – like one of the tiny images below which I’m pretty sure is Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses.
I have still have a lot more of Marrickville to explore and so I’m not going to do add a big list of things to do in Marrickville on this post – instead, I’m just going to highlight some of my favourite pics from Faversham Lane.
This won’t spoil the experience for you though as there’s still heaps of images I haven’t shown you.
If you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend, I’d definitely suggest heading down there and checking it out – before everyone discovers it and it’s full of people doing photoshoots!
My Favourite Images from Faversham Lane
This short of Eminem – aka Marshall Mathers – just made me laugh – and yes, it’s on an actual mattress – not sure if it’s attached to anything or if it gets carried in and out at night but loved this.
Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction
“I Don’t Know If It’s Worth Five Dollars, But It’s Pretty F****** Good.”
So Much Going On
Even the bins get in on the action.
Yoda it is
I didn’t spot a Baby Yoda yet – but apparently, all the images mean something to the artist so maybe he’s just not a Mandalorian fan.
There’s actually two drawings of David Bowie among all the paintings. I’m not sure if anyone else gets that honour.
This is the bigger one (and I nearly missed it as it was hidden behind a car) but there’s also a small Ziggy Stardust image.
Going to have to add this to my post on places to see for Bowie fans in Sydney.
I think that’s my nervous smile – it’s definitely something weird going on!
That really is just a sample of what’s on offer and I could have added a whole load more.
I was intrigued and so I dropped a few questions over to Stuart, the artist, to find out more and he was kind enough to answer them for me …
Q&A With Artist Stuart Sale
When did you start painting the lane and why?
“It was three years ago. I used it as a place to test stencils before taking them out and painting around the city. I then started using a projector to paint murals and again it was like a practice spot. As it’s the back of my studio it became a stress free place to make street art. Almost like my back garden. No worries re getting caught.”
How do you choose who to paint?
” The first few roller doors I painted were the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger, I’d recently painted a large mural at Bondi beech featuring 120 small portraits of legends from music, movies, sport etc… I guess it was a group of influential people in my lifetime and before. I’m the lane it was just a chance to paint some of these in a larger scale.”
What’s your favourite work there?
The large lion portrait. It’s the most detailed piece and it took me 2 days where the others are more simple and can be painted in a few hours.
Is there anyone you haven’t included yet but would like to?
“There’s not much room left in the lane to paint more portraits. I still have a few that I would put up and have been given many requests by passers-by. I’d probably add a few more football players, I’m a mad Man Utd fan so maybe a few more players and legendary manager Alex Ferguson.
In truth because by last year I had half the lane covered in portraits I felt obliged to finish it in the same style with more celeb portraits as I recently held an exhibition in the lane to draw a line under it and move on.
I’m a bit over painting black and white faces now and will probably paint more detailed murals In the style of the lion although not necessarily animals.
I’m also keen to resume painting out in more visible areas. The lane became a safe place to paint simply for the fun of painting and not so much about my work being seen. I’m looking forward to getting out again and painting on major cross-sections with no permission as I’ve missed that.”
Have any celebrities commented on their portrait?
“I have had the odd comment mainly from fan pages of certain celebs. A George Harrison page comments regularly and George Best’s son recently commented on his mural. I tag the celebs of course but haven’t been invited over for a sit-down portrait as yet. Marshall Mattress was very popular amongst Eminem fans.”
How to Get to Faversham Lane, Marrickville
Faversham Lane is not listed on google maps, so you do need a little bit of instruction – starting with what station to get off at!
Despite it being in the suburb of Marrickville, you don’t want to get off at Marrickville Station – that will lead to a pretty long walk. Instead, get off at Sydenham Station (which is on the T3 and T4 line from Central Station) and it’s about a nine-minute walk from there.
Faversham Lane is just off Faversham Street which is marked on google maps.
Is There Anything Else Cool Nearby?
Marrickville is known for its microbreweries and there are three of them within a short walk of Faversham Lane. You might want to check out Philter Brewing which is just opposite the junction of Faversham Street and Sydenham Road.
Or, you could check out Batch Brewing a bit further down Sydenham Road toward the station – or, Stockade Brewing which is hidden in the backstreets a few blocks away,
If gin is more your thing, then you’ll want to check out Poor Tom’s Gin. My friend Paula, who runs the excellent Sydney Expert blog raves about them
There’s also lots more street art around here. I was running a bit late the day I went and the quick way to get to it was blocked by roadworks and so I didn’t get a proper chance to explore, but the Marrickville Graffiti Wall is located between Sydenham Station and Faversham Lane (at the far end of Shirlow Street) on so you might want to check that out.
Make sure you look down Buckley Lane for a cool mural and you’ll also find some interesting decoration at the Marrickville Bowlo. Lastly, there’s a huge mural by Robson just as you enter Faversham Lane.
Marrickville Bowling Club is just around the corner. If you’re not from Australia, this is not ten pin bowling – it’s barefoot bowls, which, is basically lawn bowls – but without shoes. No I don’t know why either but just go with it. They also have live music at night
I’ll add to this once I get a chance to go back and explore more, but I was so stoked by Faversham Lane I just wanted to get this post out there.
What to Read Next
If you’re into street art, then have a look at our post on the story behind the house in Surry Hills that got renowned street artist Thierry Noir to paint the outside.
You might also want to have a look at our guide on another Sydney street artist Will Coles who works in concrete rather than paint.
If you’re looking for another interesting walk in Sydney that’s not on the tourist trail, have a look at our guide to the fun and unusual things you can spot along the Glebe foreshore walk.
Who Writes Differentville?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a journalist and author living in Sydney.
My travel articles have been published in titles including The Australian, Body & Soul at the Sunday Telegraph, RAC Horizons, Jetstar magazine and more.
I like the weird, the wonderful and anything that makes me jump and down with glee like I’m about three. That’s what you’ll find here.