5 Cities to See Interesting Street Art
One reason that many people cite for travelling across the world is to visit exciting and inspired contemporary art galleries that house collections of the finest modern art works. People travel from all around the world to visit the Tate Modern in London or New York's MOMA, and art galleries have subsequently become major tourist destinations. Why not try something a little different and consider a city break based upon the creativity of its street art? There are many cities that are already famed for their street art, be it for political or artist grounds. Read on to discover our top five cities to visit to discover interesting and artistic street art.
Relatively lax laws regarding urban art have led to Reykjavik's streets being lined with fun and colourful graffiti. Already known as a quirky and eclectic city, the street art here feels well considered and respectful, purely existing for creative purposes rather than expressing political or aggressive messages. Most art works have been commissioned specifically by the owners of the shops and buildings that they decorate the exterior walls of, created by a collective of artists well renowned for their work in the city. Ensure that you seek out Guido van Helten's oversized faces, based on original photographs from the archives at the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, and Sara Riel's colourful creations that often focus on elements of nature such as birds, flowers and mushrooms.
Photo Credit: Sarah Ackerman
Berlin instantly springs to mind when discussing street art, particularly due to the politically decorated East Side Gallery. First time visitors to the city will enjoy slowly walking the length of the remaining portion of the Berlin wall, admiring the array of graffiti that commemorates the original political art works that adorned the wall. Originally painted in 1990 by over one hundred different artists, the wall has recently been restored but still falls victim to erosion and vandalism. Don't plan your entire visit around the wall, however. The areas of East Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain in particular plays host to an array of prolific street art, both political and decorative. Keep your eyes peeled for famous works such as Mentalgassi's oversized faces as you wander the streets, and don't miss exploring the area known as Urban Spree for an eclectic collection of urban art.
Photo Credit: Wendelin Jacober
The birthplace of Banksy is something of a pilgrimage for advocates of street art. Not only can you trawl the city's streets seeking out works painted by the most famous graffiti artist in the world, but there is a whole host of other urban artworks to discover, especially around the Stokes Croft area of the city, where you can view Banksy's infamous Mild Mild West mural. If the weather is grim, you can still explore Bristol's street art scene from indoors, as the contemporary M Shed Museum houses a collection of graffiti that has been removed from its original locations and specially commissioned murals such as Andy Council's dinosaurs, created from illustrations of Bristol's iconic landmarks. The best time to visit is during Upfest, Europe's largest street art festival when over 250 street artists travel from all around the world to decorate the walls of Bristol's buildings over one weekend.
Photo Credit: Mark Kent, Flickr
The predominant factor drawing tourists into this small Polish city is the abundance of large colourful murals that stretch as tall as ten stories high on the sides of buildings. Relatively new to the street art scene, the collection of creative murals was commissioned in 2009 as a way to reinvigorate the city with an injection of culture, aiming to attract tourists flocking to the city to view the art works. Although several internationally renowned street artists were involved with the project, it is the multiple works of the local duo known as Etam that capture the most attention. The vibrant art works adorn the sides of concrete apartment blocks and abandoned buildings, bringing much needed splashes of colour onto the streets. Many of the works are inspired by Polish folklore, capturing scenes and characters that the locals know well. Ensure that you don't miss any of the murals by following the dedicated map that helps you to plan a walking tour of the public art display.
Photo Credit: Zorro2212, WikiCommons
Mexico City, Mexico
Public art displays have been part of Mexico City's history since the 1920's, when muralists used their work to portray political and social messages around the city. In 2012, the city commissioned a collection of murals with the All City Canvas project, inviting nine artists from around the world to decorate the streets as they were in the 1920's. The project arranged for the murals to be painted on the exterior of some of the city's most important buildings, ensuring that the art works would be in key sight lines for both tourists and locals. The result is a colourful collection of urban art that seeks to excite and inspire viewers, brightening up the streets of the city.
Photo Credit: Jay Galvin, Flickr
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.
Banner Image Credit: Jason Eppink, Flickr