Art, when travelling the world, can give you a real insight into country’s cultures, people, and even politics. But when speaking of art, it’s not always the case that we’re talking about pieces hanging on a wall in a gallery. Some of the most important pieces of art can, in fact, be found decorating the streets that we walk along on a daily basis. And all around the world you’ll find some stunning example of such street art.
You can’t begin an article about street art without mentioning Berlin. This German city is a hub for those wishing to discover (and also try their hand at producing) street art. In the borough of Kreuzberg, you’ll find many large and influential pieces of street art. Victor Ash’s Cosmonaut looms large over Mariannenstrasse, and you’ll find Belgian street artist Roa’s mural of native German animals to have once frequented Berlin, at Skalitzerstraße.
Most of the street art found in the city, however, is contained to the East Side Gallery. This open air gallery made from pieces of the Berlin Wall is a stark, yet colourful, reminder of Berlin’s history. Painted by 118 artists from 21 different countries around the world, you’ll find that much of the artwork produced is a political commentary of the monumental event that took place between 1989 and 1990. Some of the most famous pieces from the gallery are the images of an East German Trabant car breaking through the wall, and that of Honecker and Brezhnev locking lips.
When writing about street art in London, you’ll always hear mention of Shoreditch – home to a number of famous pieces of street art by world-renowned artists. You’ll find Banksy, many pieces produced by Roa – including enormous the crane on Hanbury Street and the aptly placed sleeping pig on Bacon Street – and also Louis Masai, who is known for creating street art of endangered animals.
Just this year, Tower Hamlets became home to the Endangered 13 project. Thirteen artists took on the task of covering the 120-metre stretch of railway arches with street art, designed to raise awareness of endangered species around the world. When exploring the quirky area of Camden you will also come across a number of political and celebrity pieces of street art produced by the illusive female street artists Bambi. Amy Winehouse, Nelson Mandela, and even the Queen have all been immortalised on walls around North London.
When in Prague, there is one place you must not miss if you are looking for street art: the Lennon Wall. Back during the Czech Republic’s communist rule, ‘Lennonists’ used the wall to express their love for John Lennon and what he stood for after he passed away. Many times it was painted over and many times it was painted on once again. Now this once-quiet square, located in the heart of Old Town, is a great spot in the city to read messages of love and peace.
But street art isn’t just limited to these countries. You’ll find it anywhere if you’re looking out for it. Whether it is in Melbourne’s colourful laneways, or hidden in the Tivoli car park in the city of Dublin. So, when travelling next, why not take time admiring the pictures and stencils that adorn the walls, instead of just passing them by? Street art is more than just aesthetic adornments. It is used to make political statements, highlight a worthy cause, and showcase certain parts of history.