Berlin is the home of street art and creative graffiti. If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll already have glimpsed the East Side Gallery: though that is planned and curated.
Away from the city centre, street art is so much a part of Berlin life that walking tour companies vie with each other to show visitors the edgiest and grittiest current manifestations of this vibrant art form. Even big companies climb on the band wagon. Back in the early years of this century, Nike paid for this piece.
Somehow, global companies making use of a movement powered from the bottom up seems slightly to be missing the point.
Here we are in Berlin. Before we arrived, I imagined that even some thirty years after the fall of the wall dividing east from West Berlin, we’d be able to tell which zone we were in. The east would still be full of Stalinist architecture, and look, well, shabbier, surely?
The Plus Hotel, once a school of textile design.
No. Not at all. We’re staying in a cracking looking hotel and hostel that used to be a textile school. We learnt that we were along the road from the East Side Gallery. An art gallery? That’s nice.
You’ll find your way to the ‘gallery’ by following the stencilled signs on the pavement.
But this is a gallery like no other. The canvas on which the invited artists worked is the wall, the actual Berlin Wall. Walk along the streets which line the route of what’s left of the wall and you’ll see painting after commissioned painting with the artist’s own thoughts provoked by the wall and its demise. It’s angry, gritty, colourful, and provokes conversation among passers by. We plan to return tomorrow for a more considered visit.