Street art: a tour of Berlin, Spain, and ending up in England.

Blogging challenges, Catalonia, England, Germany, London, Spain

It was in Berlin that I first really discovered a love of Street Art. Maybe it’s because I got some background understanding by going out for the afternoon with Dave, of Alternative Berlin Tours. I learnt the difference between graffiti, street art, stickers and transfers, and something of the political anger and activism that can inform so much of it: particularly near the former Berlin Wall. This has now been re-invented as The East Side Gallery and I don’t show anything of that here because many of its images are so well known. Here are some examples we saw in Dave’s company, or exploring later on our own.

Having done Street Art Module One in Berlin, I was ready a year or so later to do Module Two in Valencia, It was here that I met an irrepressible type who peoples doorways and random bits of street furniture, painted by David de Limón.

Our tutor introduces us to David de Limón

And it was here too, as we once had in Seville, that we encountered street artists doing their day – or occasionally night – job.

Here are a few more:

I like the way that the windows become part of the fantasy here.

And here’s one just for Past Squares

And we’ll have a whistle-stop tour of Spain and view a few more:

Catalan independence is always the story in Berga …
… whereas relaxing over a drink with a friend is more Seville’s style

Maybe this is my favourite image of all, a bit of fun created from damaged plasterwork in Seville:

Another Past Square for Becky, and worth another outing, I think.

Although – hang on – no. My real favourite has got to be in Manor House Gardens, Hither Green, because the artist appears to have designed this image with my granddaughter in mind.

With thanks to Patti for providing us with a chance to wander city streets this week in quest of images that amuse, provoke and stimulate us. It’s the perfect moment to join the Photographing Public Art Challenge too. As well as Monday Mural. All this and Past Squares and Monday Window too … This is taking multi-tasking to a new level.

The header image comes from the top floor of an apartment block in Málaga.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #170

Monday Mural

Monday Window

Past Squares

Photographing Public Art

Tree House at the Berlin Wall

Blogging challenges, Germany, Politics

Today commemorates the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  You’ll find plenty of posts celebrating this in different ways:  here’s one.

I thought instead I would share a tale I heard when we were in Berlin two years ago.  It’s an optimistic, positive story for unoptimistic times.

September 17th, 2017

The tale of a tree house

I love this story.  I hope you do too.

Quite suddenly and unexpectedly, one night in 1961, Berlin became a divided city. At first there was merely barbed wire fencing, then a wall. It was all done in such a hurry that mistakes were made. One tiny part of Kreuzberg that belonged to the Eastern sector got isolated in the West. The Americans – for it was in their zone – could do nothing about this unremarkable patch. It became an unloved and unlovely rubbish dump.

Then along came Osman Kalin, an immigrant Turk. He wanted a vegetable patch. He cleared the land and started to plant seeds.  As his patch became productive, he gave vegetables to schools, to the local church, to anyone in need. He cobbled together a rather ramshackle tree house.  He became something of a local hero.

Initially, the East didn’t mind. But when East Berliners successfully started to tunnel under his patch and escape he came under suspicion. The authorities came to interrogate him, and he welcomed them in his usual hospitable way. They gave up and left him alone.

In 1989, the Wall fell. A newly united Berlin City Council began to see Osman’s ramshackle domain as an embarrassment. They gave him notice to quit. The local and wider community was horrified. 25,000 people signed a petition demanding he be allowed to go on growing his vegetables.

He stayed. He’s 95 now, and doesn’t work so much on his vegetable patch, though his son does. He lives in a flat nearby rather than in the tree house. He’s still a much-loved local hero.

I heard this story on a walking tour offered by Alternative Berlin Tours, led by the remarkable and endlessly interesting Dave. Very highly recommended.

 An entry for Six Word Saturday. In her post, Debbie too has chosen to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall

Snapshot Saturday: Street art for pedestrians

Germany, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

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.

I didn’t realise this is a Nike advert. So that didn’t work then…..

Somehow, global companies making use of a movement powered from the bottom up seems slightly to be missing the point.

Using spray cans; re-purposed fire extinguishers; transfers from images shot in night clubs, applied to city walls then doused in glitter, street artists come out at dead of night to brighten up favourite haunts. Bands of graffiti artists have thousands of followers on YouTube.

You, like me, can simply be a curious pedestrian in the streets of Berlin. Can you spot the example of yarn bombing?

This is a response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: ‘Pedestrian’.

Berlin: staying on the east side

Germany

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.