More murals

A few more shots of the colourful East Side Gallery. Whether its pastel positivity or more serious political messages.

In more than a hundred paintings on what was the east side of the Berlin wall, the artists commented on the political changes in 1989/90.

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To get to the gallery either Warschauer Straße and Ostbahnhof railway stations are the perfect starting points for a walk along the East Side Gallery.

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East Side Gallery

Taking in some of the more colourful sights of Berlin now we head to the East Side Gallery.

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This colourful site is an outdoor gallery that covers one of the few remaining sections of the Berlin Wall.

At 1.3 kilometre it’s the longest open air art gallery in the world and features work from over 118 artists from 21 countries.

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One of my personal favourites is the image below – Danke, Andrej Sacharow.

This haunting, disembodied head portrait was painted by Dmitry Vrubel and Viktoria Timofeeva, in honour of Andrej Sacharow. A Soviet nuclear physicist and human rights activist, Sacharow died in 1989, just a few weeks after the wall fell.

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Immediately after the wall came down artists began painting, and it officially opened as an open air gallery on 28 September 1990.

There’s over 100 paintings and many of them examine the changing political situation in Berlin at the time and reflected on the country’s recent history.

Below is Mikhail Serebrjakow’s mural,  ‘Diagonal Solution to A Problem,’ which shows a thumb being held up by a chain to hold it in a positive, thumbs-up position.

The mural shows the forceful nature of the East German government and their attempts to preserve Communist ideals in the country.

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The murals are under constant attack from development, the weather and the scribbles of visitors. A non profit organisation aim to restore many of the paintings to their former glory.

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Below is another section of the wall, captured on very shaky camera video footage!!

One of the most famous images on the wall is The Kiss. It depicts an embrace, known as the Socialist Fraternal Kiss, between Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker. It took place in 1979 in honour of the 30th anniversary of the German Demonstrated Republic, or East Germany.

The mural was painted by Dmitri Wrubel, and under the image is a slogan reading, “My God Help me to Survive this Deadly Love.”

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The image to the right below is called It’s Happened in November.

Berlin artist Kani Alavi painted this mural in 1990. The  painting depicts Checkpoint Charlie the day the wall fell, with thousands of East German faces, crossing to the West.

It’s a colourful, must see sight and well worth taking a few hours to explore.

Plethora of paint

There’s a last lingering look at the amazing murals of Orgosolo now before we head onwards.

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I love the combination of faded pastel portraits of people with the flaking, peeling paint of old doors and metal work.

Below Mahatma Gandhi ministers to the poor and dwells on the plight of the impoverished.

This colourful house is so delightful it deserves a double whammy of photos!

Musicians line the walls of this ochre coloured building hidden in a backstreet.

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It is thought that the mural as a form of genuine political expression and dialogue  is dwindling because, although more appear, often councils invite artists to paint to attract visitors.

Therefore sanitising and professionalising a once wild art form.

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Whatever the motivations behind the murals of Orgosolo, and other bandit hill towns, they are an undeniable draw for art lovers and photographers alike.

So if you fancy an out of the way, mountain top detour to visit a former den of iniquity and banditry, you’ll love Orgosolo and its colourful art.

Multitude of murals

As we continue our exploration of Orgosolo’s outdoor art gallery we come across everything from political and historical paintings to cubist style works.

Below is a painted reproduction of a movie poster for the famous Bandits of Orgosolo, a 1960 Italian film drama directed by Vittorio De Seta that featured local shepherds as some of the lead characters.

Other murals reflect more recent world events such as the 9/11 terror attacks.

This trio of modernist works depict local women carrying out traditional crafts.

The man is dwarfed by this ornate and detailed mural that takes up an entire house facade.

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While below a window is surrounded by colourful depictions of local life.

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I took so many pictures of Orgosolo that I might manage to stretch to a third post about it!

Ogling Orgosolo

Moving away from beaches for a while we’re heading to the isolated town of Orgosolo.

Hidden in the midst of 1,000-metre-high mountains, surrounded by wild pine forests and a byword for lawlessness and kidnappers, Orgosolo is also an open air art gallery thanks to hundreds of murals that cover every wall, house and shop.

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Paintings can be found on walls all over Orgosolo. Above the many roles of women are celebrated – workers, mothers and lovers.

 

Whether it is pointing out the hypocrisy of giving charity without supporting countries to develop themselves or advocating for women’s rights, each picture tells a very charged story.

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The first mural in Orgosolo was signed by Dioniso in 1969: Dioniso was the collective name of a group of anarchists.

Since then they have reflected Sardinia’s political struggles but also deal with international issues as well as portraying the traditional island ways of life.

Orgosolo and the surrounding villages are infamous due to its lawless past full of bandits and kidnappers.

It is based in the central region known as Barbagia and, fittingly enough, the name comes from Cicero who described it as a land of barbarians.

At one time Orgosolo was known as the village of the murderers due to its high crime rate!

Given the rather reckless driving of some of the locals, it could still claim a fair few unwitting tourist scalps!

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More to come from this rough and ready open air art gallery . . .

Malaga moments

After sating my need to snap mountains of fruit and veg we head into Malaga town to check out some sights.

I’ve previously only seen Malaga cathedral from the outside but as the mum enjoys a good church potter we headed inside!

Original plans would have seen the structure with two towers but funds ran out.

The fact that only one tower has been finished led to the cathedral being called “La Manquita” AKA “The One-Armed Lady”.

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The cathedral is a mix of diverse architectural styles including Gothic in the ground floor, Renaissance and Baroque.

The cathedral was built between 1528 and 1782 near to the site of a former mosque.

Once we’ve had our fill of inspiring religious architecture we mooch around to the Picasso museum (not to visit obviously – that costs money!)

But I snap a few souvenir pics so I feel that i have seen the main bits anyway!!

Then it’s off for a spot of tapas and sangria but en-route I am entranced by some epic scale wall art.

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These fantastic rainbow murals depict a variety of traditional Spanish themes including sultry dancing ladies.

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These fantastic creations are the work of artist Jonathan Morillas and adorn the square of the Jewish quarter.

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Mum acts as a measuring scale to show the epic proportions of these colourful images.

Meanwhile I get a bit freaked out by how many eyes are in this pictures! A bit creepy. . .

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That’s the joy of exploring different cities and countries, so many details to discover!

Back to Spain

Whizzing through this year’s travels now. Next up on the trail in May was a return visit to Malaga combined with Seville and Cadiz.

I’ve not got too many snaps of Malaga as it’s already been fairly well covered in previous blog posts.

Being a particularly useless travel blogger today as I just can’t remember which little village these pretty tiles were snapped!

The same village provided these lovely decorative walls, from a natural organic green garden wall to a faux view on a whitewashed wall.

But the main event of this holiday, and the reason for returning to this area is coming up – Seville and Cadiz.

Brick Lane revisited

Along with a glut of candy coloured neon joy we also took a tour of some of London’s street art hot spots.

We take a quick turn around Wood Street in Walthamstowe before heading to my favourite art spotting haunt – Brick Lane.

We first visited around four years ago and it’s interesting to see how the area is changing.

While there is still a street art scene it doesn’t feel as vibrant or as strong as previously.

There are still colourful collages of stickers, paste ups and coloured paint to be found.

However the developers are moving in. Exclusive highrises are popping up and Costa coffee and designer burger joints are starting to encroach.

I have the feeling that the gradual gentrification of the area will sound a death knell for the street art scene. As the middle classes move in, so the artists move out.

It’s ironic that the very thing that has made the area so appealing to developers will be the victim of its own success.

But in the meantime there is still political satire to be found, musings on the surveillance state and statements to be made.

Key themes currently are the American political situation, Brexit and thoughts on the consumerism and commodification of the female form (or maybe I have overthought it)

Below are some cute paste up from the likes of Sub Dude London and Keef. Cuteness belies that biting messages that the work delivers.

Street art divides opinion, some people see it as vandalism and some see it as an open air, transient art gallery.

I think there’s a clear divide between what I personally class as “ART” ie pieces that exhibit actual skill or have a clever message to tell, and then just the mindless tagging of lazy aerosol wielding idiots. (who quite happily destroy other artists work)

Brick Lane has both in abundance and it’s a moveable feast. Pieces that appear and disappear almost overnight. Or are mutilated or transmogrified by human or natural interventions.

I almost love the weathered, old pieces the best. The ones that have been left to sink or swim by their creators. To claim their own transient place in the world – just like us.

Neon wonderland

Taking a brief break from our Japanese Odyessy to document a quick trip to London this weekend.

Staying with a university friend in Amersham we first head to Walthamstowe, the home of 90s boy band E17!

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There’s a surprisingly quaint old village centre with a 15th century timbered house. But our main focus is hidden, rather unprepossessing, on an industrial estate. . .

It’s the home of a neon wonderland, a warehouse of rainbow gas and colourful wonderment….

It’s God’s Own Junkyard – a warehouse of all things neon. A mini Vegas.

The warehouse is full f neon signs that have been created and curated by Chris Bracey.

He’s made neon masterpieces for a wide range of high profile films including Eyes Wide Shut, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Batman.

The junkyard is an elective, electric collection of signs, statues and general bric a brac.

The website describes his haul as “New & used neon fantasies, salvaged signs, vintage neons, old movie props and retro displays.

“Neon art made from found objects, retrieved and renewed waste and lights.
Fairground & circus lighting, architectural sign salvage. Led & cold cathode luxury products. ”

But in truth it is hard to put into words the explosion of colourful joy that this mini rainbow in a metal box evokes.

From words of wisdom to girly bar signs, iconic statues to religious icons. There’s a surprise tucked in every corner.

Whether you’re a lover of rock and roll, burlesque, 80’s club chic or just an avid snapper, this is the place for you.

It’s a eyeball popping, sensual overload and even though it’s only a small space you are hooked for hours.

There is a particular emphasis on striperama’s, girly bars and general sex themed signs.

Neon does have a certain sleazy, enticing charm that works well for the skin trade.

There’s even a darling little outdoor space complete with Alice in Wonderland mushrooms and a pensive Grim reaper.

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We take a brief break from the job of snapping to enjoy a HUGE slice of cake in the Rolling Scones cafe . . .

Then it’s onwards to capture yet more of these gas filled neon installations.

You can commission and buy some of these gorgeous creations. I am already imagining one in the living room!

The name neon is derived from the Greek word, νέον, neuter singular form of νέος (neos), meaning new.

Bit of science – Neon is a colorless, odorless, inert monatomic gas under standard conditions, with about two-thirds the density of air.

It was discovered (along with krypton and xenon) in 1898 as one of the three residual rare inert elements remaining in dry air, after nitrogen, oxygen, argon and carbon dioxide were removed.

Neon is often used in signs and produces an unmistakable bright reddish-orange light.

Although tube lights with other colours are often called “neon”, they use different noble gases or varied colours of fluorescent lighting.

The neon sign is an evolution of the earlier Geissler tube, which is an electrified glass tube containing a “rarefied” gas (the gas pressure in the tube is well below atmospheric pressure).

When a voltage is applied to electrodes inserted through the glass, an electrical glow  results. Geissler tubes were quite popular in the late 1800s, and the different colours they emitted were characteristics of the gases within.

Neon tube signs are produced by the craft of bending glass tubing into shapes.

A person skilled in this craft is known as a glass bender, neon or tube bender. The neon tube is made out of 1 meter straight “sticks” of glass tubing, which are sold by sign suppliers to neon shops worldwide

The end result is the gorgeous, glowing, confections of light that we all know and love.

 

So if you’re a neon lover or enjoy exploring a living paintbox then take a detour to an industrial estate in E17 for a trip down the rabbit hole into wonderland!

Dans l’oeil d’une Sirene

 

While in Pont Croix I was intrigued by a huge, colourful painting on the wall of a church.

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It had the evocative title of Dans L’oeil d’une Sirene – In the Eye of the Mermaid.

This turned out to be one of many sumptuous, marine themed paintings by Jean-Noel Duchemin.

His fishy delights were displayed in the Chapelle Saint Vincent and many are painted on large, stiffened, linen shirts or draperies.

The sea obsessed artist paints multicoloured fish, sailors, sirens on multiple materials, especially ones that are recovered if possible.

The end result is a whimsical, colourful, almost childlike celebration of all things seafaring.

Whether it’s weathered fishermen, jewel bright shoals of fish or tender partings of sailors and love ones, there’s a cornucopia of water themed delights.