A blank wall is a crime
At least some of the time anyway…
You know, it seems that the impulse to pick up a stick of chalk or a can of spray paint and leave ones mark on the nearest wall truly is a universal one. From Bogota to Beirut to Bristol, one of the recurring highlights of my travel experiences has been checking out the street art and graffiti of the worlds cities.
One of the earliest known records of human activity is cave wall paintings so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that this urge continues to this day. Street art has now steadily evolved from juvenile tagging to a legitimate form of urban, contemporaneous expression.
What follows is a collection of some of the urban canvas’ I have encountered on my travels. It is not intended as “Street Art Top Trumps” or a “Best Street Art In The World” type piece it is simply a record of my journey so far.
I hope you enjoy it.
During my first long backpacking trip to Colombia, I rarely took photographs. This was partially out of caution (street crime is high) but mainly because I was determined to “be in the moment”. These shots of famous street art in Cartagena are some of the few pictures I did take during my first month.
I’ve since relaxed my policy on been “in the moment” and have captured some great images including this advert for Tinder I found on my last day in Bogota. I had some interesting experiences using Tinder in Colombia by the way…
By the time I got to Venezuela, it was hard to take pictures as my phone/camera had been robbed (twice). Fortunately though, I was able to borrow friends’ devices from time to time.
This was taken during a day trip to the Curacao peninsula. It was set deep into a jungle lagoon.
The Indian Sub-Continent
Sometimes, its not about the art so much as the message. When I came across this high in the Himalayas’ in India, it made my day. For those of you who don’t know, Huddersfield is the nearest town to my own home town of Halifax.
There was some amazing art along the streets of India. Although it seems that this would be drug pusher in Udaipur seemed to feel he had something of his own to add to this piece..
This wasn’t exactly street art – rather ancient murals along the inner walls of the fortress in India. The various scenes depicted Indian kings sleeping with hookers, smoking Opium and Lord Krsna been chased up trees by naked women (it happened to me once…).
Nepalese street artists mixed the lively and quite frightening themes from folk traditions with modern street art techniques. This was taken in the Thamel area of Kathmandu.
Though sometimes they just used their talents to advertise 8% beer as this shop-side mural suggests. By the way, I advice against Nepal Ice Strong, instead you should stick to the 5% “weak” stuff that comes in Green bottles. It tastes better and makes for a kinder morning after.
The Middle East
Israel & The West Bank
Somewhat inevitably the street art around The West Bank was political in Nature. These two were taken in Nazareth and Jericho respectively.
For me, Bethlehem’s huge separation wall was far more interesting than the Church of The Nativity which is a stones throw away.
You also get the chance to add your own contribution under the watchful eyes of Israeli soldiers manning the machine gun towers. Banksy has even made a few contributions.
The seat of 3 empires, Istanbul, had some seriously cool districts.
Earlier this year I visited Lebanon. Beirut was however perhaps the most graffitied capital city I’ve ever visited. It’s just a masterpiece of urban dilapidation.
It wasn’t just confined to the fixed canvas’s the city had to offer either…
Europes Dirty Face
Athens was by far one of my favourite cities. The country is in severe austerity to the city council can’t afford to clean the graffiti of the streets. In Athens, it wasn’t just paint that caught my eye, the fly-postering was a masterpiece in itself.
It sometimes seemed that in France, the best art was still struck inside the nations numerous, first rate art galleries. This piece by the riverside in Nantes was done on the side of an old warehouse.
Special mention has to be given to Oslo. Home of Edward Munch’s “The Scream” and now an entire neighbourhood covered in spray paint!