An Urban Canvas

I am loving the street art in Lisbon. Some may disagree with me. Some may think of it still as graffiti rather than art. But graffiti is art. Graffiti refers to a type of public marking and let’s think about it…this has existed since the Roman era, the Greeks, the Egyptians and our indigenous Australians. It’s always been a form of expression and a way of communicating. There are distinct differences between amateur scribblings and scrawls and truly impressive and clever pieces of artwork.

As you walk the streets of Lisbon, you find these little surprises along the way in the most unique places. Some of the pieces have a political message signifying economically challenging times in Portugal and the majority are extremely eye catching and colourful.

I love the juxtaposition between the old and the new. An old door in the middle of the Alfama district becomes unique in its own right. Somehow a fish in a shirt and tie whistling a tune enhances the appeal of this beautifully old and traditional neighbourhood.

Without this bow-tied sardine, this would just be another ancient wall in the Alfama district of Lisbon. I love the artists use of the wall as the frame.

By far, the most impressive street art I have seen so far is by an artist known as ‘Blu’. He’s originally from Argentina, but now lives in Bologna, Italy and his work is prolific throughout Europe. You can see some of his other works here and here. I stood and stared at it for a long time. Incredible. Unbelievable. Large scale. Spanning across three abandoned and derelict buildings.

And last week, during language school, I spotted this little guy through our 1st floor window. Sadly, this week he has disappeared! Maybe a annoyed local?

His t-shirt: Tinta Crua = Raw Paint. His banner: Nothing Gonna Stop the Flow.

Unfortunately, this time, someone stopped the flow.


Loves of Portugal

It’s taken me a while, but here it is. My Portugal blog – “Pounding the Calçada Portuguesa“. We’ve been doing a lot of walking and the streets of Lisbon are absolutely stunning, if not a little dangerous at times. But I’m finding that the beauty of this art form definitely outweighs their slippery and perilous nature.

Calçada Portuguesa, otherwise known as Portuguese pavement, is a very traditional style cobblestone found everywhere throughout Portugal. Designs are usually in black and white using basalt and limestone, are still created by hand and are an important part of the nations identity and heritage.

Many beautiful afternoons have so far been spent walking and getting lost in the gorgeous and charming streets of Lisbon, exploring the narrow travessas (alleyways) and becos (cul-de-sacs) in Alfama, Graça, Bairro Alto, Chaido and Castelo districts. Calçada can be found everywhere throughout Lisbon from ordinary black and white square designs through to the more elaborate and artistic patterns.

I’m totally obsessed with the calçada in this country!

But I also have a growing obsession with the Portuguese tiles, the azulejos. Wandering the streets of Lisbon is a feast of colours and designs, not only at feet level, but also at eye level and above on the many traditional apartment buildings. The tiles are painted and made from ceramic. The artform date backs to the 15th century and can be found on just about every kind of building from churches, palaces, apartment buildings, train stations to the Metro.

In contrast, the city is also covered with amazing street art and graffiti, which I also love. The colour and the designs are unique and it is fast becoming a major attraction of Lisbon, so much so that the city council has started handing over abandoned buildings to artists, as they have realised that good quality street art might actually be an asset rather than a scourge on the city.

I’ve already been here six weeks and am completely in love.  I will have plenty to write about…..the food, the culture, the art, the people, the music, the language, the beautiful countryside….as we pound the pavements of Portugal.

And last, but not least, my other love in Portugal, and the reason I am here.

So stay tuned and please feel free to comment if the mood strikes you. It makes me happy to know you are out there reading.