Nestled in a residential laneway in the South-East Melbourne suburb of Carnegie - a rapidly growing neighbourhood - is the Carnegie Community Laneway Garden and Gallery. Located just a block over from the communal footpath garden featured in the first part of this series, walking down the busy road, if it was not for the mosaic tile artwork of birds, you could easily miss the entry to the community laneway.
The Carnegie Community Laneway Garden and Gallery started as a project amongst neighbours, who back onto the 100-odd meter laneway, in a bid to turn an unused, neglected space – apart from the odd mattress being dumped – into an environment in which locals would actually want to spend time. They upgraded the soil and established a seasonal garden with edible herbs, and flanked the fences and footpath with art, mirrors, a public street library, hopscotch, and a fairy letter box (with a guaranteed reply from the fairies as soon as they read your note). The community laneway is a continuous project, with artwork being added (and welcomed) and the garden regularly tended to.
Also known as ‘Laz’s Laneway’ in honour of neighbour who helped establish the laneway, who has since passed. With the name proudly displayed in a large mosaic work at the other entrance to the laneway. Laz’s laneway is a fascinating example of what can be achieved when neighbours work together, and the capacity of a grass-roots effort in turning disused space into a public amenity.
We recently visited the laneway to document its progress. You can keep up to date with the project however via the community laneways facebook page.