A Taste of Street Art in Shanghai

In a city of over 20 million, I was bound to come across some street art. It surprised me that the Chinese word for graffiti is tuya (涂鸦), a word used to describe “scribble”. Traditionally, graffiti is viewed as criminal art or vandalism in China. If caught painting in non-designated areas, artists will be fined, arrested, forced to paint over their work, or possibly held in jail for a few days.

Street art in Shanghai
A beautiful mural I found in Pudong, Shanghai.

In an attempt to reverse the negative connotations of graffiti, some artists refer to themselves as aerosol artists. Also to development of graffiti in China all the materials must become popular and cheap for everyone as spray paint is a rare commodity in Shanghai.

At the moment the government allows street artists to only paint in certain designated places and are often supervised while doing so.

Street art in Shanghai
Artist at work under the supervision of the police

Despite the ambiguity of the law against graffiti the phenomenon of graffiti is on the rise. I look forward to seeing what other pieces I can find in this bustling city.

Top 5 Reasons Why Street Art is Important

In the last couple of years I have come to appreciate street art. I now go out of my way to see street art and even go on street art walking tours if they are offered. There are so many reasons why people love street art and why it is becoming more popular or important for people of all walks of life. Street art is an important part of history and identity for many metropolises, and sometimes even has the ability to breathe life into communities.

People are starting to accept that the creative and talented people involved are seen as artists, not vandals. And that their work, however ‘urban’, is still worthy of being considered art. People are becoming more open-minded to urban and street art and appreciating where this art form has come from.

Here are the top reasons why Street art is important and why you should love street art.

1. Street art is freedom and diversity

Art is about expression, creativity, freedom, asking and raising questions, protesting, analysing and even beautifying. A way to step beyond convention. There’s freedom with putting work in the street. You don’t even need to be considered a ‘legitimate’ artist; don’t need to have thousands of fans, have a huge social media presence, be taken seriously by galleries or be picked up by an artist agency. all over the world.

Street art is a very diverse form of expression for people from all over the world. There are street artists in nearly every country in the world who are influenced and inspired by a multitude of cultures and styles. This has resulted in a wide and diverse body of urban or street art found all over the world.

2. Mystery &Intrigue

There are so many questions when you’re a street art lover! Who did it? Why did someone put this work there? What does it mean? Does it even mean anything?

But with the invention of Instagram it’s now easier than ever to find artists’ official profiles and learn more about their work and why they do what they do. But a lot of street artists prefer to remain anonymous or use aliases for both privacy and legal reasons. There are also still artists who don’t even tag their work so the intrigue and mystery lives on.

Woodstock, South-Africa, Street Art
Doing a street art walking tourn in Woodstock, South-Africa.

3. Political or Social Statements

Graffiti and street art has always had a history of being influenced by the present political and social issues. A lot of people have painted on the walls and buildings in their cities as a form of anonymous political protest.

Some political statements are quite controversial; scrawled illegally and boldly in various countries and for various reasons. When people feel they have no power or influence but want to express their anger, hatred or defiance towards political injustice, this kind of art happens. But it is still a peaceful kind of protest.

4. Colourful surroundings = Happier Life

Art in the street makes people happy and can cheer them up. Street art makes their day and their commute more interesting and adds character to what would otherwise just be grey and boring. Art reminds people to feel alive. It’s there to beautify a space. It wakes people up, inspires and motivates them. And sometimes it can make people think.

It may have some broader social commentary, or just be there to bring some chaos to the establishment. Street art takes the ‘normal’ and makes it a thousand times more interesting. Even if you live in poverty, there’s something about bright colors and beautiful art that seems to fill the area with a contagious, buoyant optimism.

5. Sense of Community 

Street art is important to keep urban areas and their residents energized and inspired. In some areas artists and building owners come together to foster the creation of artwork that can be viewed as beautifying and reviving a city, rather than destroying it.

In some cities independent graffiti murals are designed and implemented by artists with a personal connection to the neighborhood in which they are installed. In many of the cases these pieces are created with the permission of the building owner. This relationship can then help develop positive interactions between businesses and members of their community. It is a very cost-effective way both to keep surfaces free from vandalism and to create visual cues to residents that the place they call home is desirable.

Next time you travel somewhere, take some time to explore the street art of that city. You will undoubtedly be led of the normal tourist path, but I am sure you will be surprised by what you find.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Narrow

This weeks photo challenge is Narrow: From spaghetti to the quiet alley behind your house, this week show us something narrow. This reminds me of all the narrow alley ways and lanes that fill the old city of Jerusalem. I got to explore these cobbled walkways a couple of years ago.

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love

Show us what One Love means to you……..”We all share roots”, definitely tries to create love for each other. This is a piece of beautiful Street art I found just around the corner from where I lived in cape Town, South-Africa.

"We all share roots".
“We all share roots”.

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Wooden faces found all over Woodstock

A hidden treasure, this clever cat’s head is actually a relief. It has been painted onto layers of wood, which have then been glued onto this boarded up hatch.
A hidden treasure, this clever cat’s head is actually a relief. It has been painted onto layers of wood, which have then been glued onto this boarded up hatch.

These wooden faces all over Woodstock are actually done by kids from Woodstock it self. They’re hoping to be famous artists one day, and are getting exposure by attaching their artwork on walls and doors. They find the wood in the streets and use that in their artwork. Their art work pieces are quite unique and bring a bit of colour into the area.

The unique pack of wolves of street artist Dal East

I have come to realize that Woodstock in Cape Town, South-Africa is filled with so many pieces of unique art that it is going to take me quite a while to document and post about them all. These paintings of wolves all over the Side street studio courtyard in Woodstock, cape toiwn, were done by Dal East. He’s is an artist from China and anyone who spends more than a day in Woodstock will have seen his work on a couple of walls.

DALeast is a Chinese born artist who keeps his name a secret and currently lives and works in Capetown, South Africa. He has been making art since the very young age of three years old. His unusual paintings, which are sometimes hundreds of feet across, look three dimensional and appear to have been created out of thousands of minuscule metal shards. DALeast spends six months of the year travelling and you can find his art on nearly every continent. His works can be seen in Cape Town, Miami, New York and London’s Brick Lane, as well as his native China.

You will find thousands of curly black and white little springy curves forming the shapes of packs of wolves and sprinting cheetahs and swooping eagles taking up walls and rooftops of buildings in the most unexpected places. He studied sculpture at the Institute of Fine Arts and began doing art on public space at 2004 under the alias DAL. He is inspired by the way the material world revolves, how the spiritual world unfolds, life’s emotions and the infinite space around us. He uses different mediums, methods, disciplines and spaces to create his works.

packs of wolves
A packs of wolves running across the studio walls

Side Street Studios, also in Woodstock, is a huge supporter of this art form and has given DALEast, free reign on its walls.  The dark imagery found in DALeast’s art is undeniably captivating, woven with intricate detail while focusing on the simple subjects in his pieces. Each of his pieces of art is created using paint to look like thousands of metal shards are coming together to form beautiful shapes, often animals or humans. Within every piece of DALeast’s art, a pop of color observed in the background brings his subject to life. This allows him to focus on the intricacy of his technique while delivering his final product.

A majority of DALeast’s art has animals as the subject matter. The “metal shards” make the images appear to leap off the wall or canvas. It is his skillful layering of lines that leads us to be able to visually interpret the image in many different ways. His animals are typically depicted in two disconnected parts, often disintegrating at the centre or falling away at the sides. His use of animals, he says, reflects the human condition.

“In my opinion, animals are like humans. We all live in the same environment; we have the same pressures, emotions and a feeling of insecurity in society. Animals are like society, but are kind of attached to humans,” he says.

Side street art studios in Woodstock

The courtyard where the artists chill
The courtyard where the artists chill

Woodstock in Cape Town, South-Africa is filled with so many places to see and stuff to do that you can visit a different place everytime you go there. You should however take some time to visit Side Street Studios. Not only is this the place where artist create but the court yard is a work of art. here you can find murals by Augustine Kofie (USA), Andrzej Urbanski (Germany now Cape Town) and DALeast (China now Cape Town).

Located in the side streets of Woodstock and used as an engineering workshop in the turn of the last century this building has been re-designed around the need of the creative community. It is now a home for ten creative studios. With high metal ceilings, entrance foyer and big bay windows each studio has it is own unique features.

It forms part of the city’s unofficial centre of art and design in the Woodstock area. Artists from around South Africa and abroad are invited to live at Side Street Studios and be surrounded by innovative and creative spaces to inspire the best work they can produce. 

Side Street Studios provide surroundings that are playful, intelligent and inspiring. They thrive on the collaborations and connections that are formed within this network of buildings. These studios are not “rooms for rent”, they are a context for ideas…

 

The artists living here often decorate random walls and some very famous street artists have passed through here and left some beautiful pieces of work in the courtyard.

There is also a coffee shop and a book store selling books about street art and some prints but is not open all the time. Elad, the owner of the Side Street Studios, is also putting up his private collection of paintings from street art artists on display soon so I will be on the lookout for that.

The courtyard where the artists chill
This piece is in the courtyard of Side Street Studios

NardStar street artist, “The Time is Now”

28-year-old NardStar is an up and coming female street artists in Cape Town, and arguably one of the best in South Africa at the moment. In this male dominated industry – where very few females “make it” or even get involved – Nard has chucked every single stereotype and misconception about female street artists out the door. She’s known for her signature bright, bold colour schemes, and mainly painting animals. She has painted from Cape Town to New York. Nard was also featured in Huffington Post’s 2014 article, ‘25 Women Pushing Street Art Limits Around the World,’ and in January 2016 she was listed by Okayafrica as one of nine female artists in South Africa to watch out for.

Nard is from Rondebosch, Cape Town and started graffiti at the age of 18. Nard has always had an avid interest in art even though she did not take any art lessons at school. She studied Graphic Design at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, which she feels has some kind of influence over her work. Her distinct work now graces walls in galleries and walls in communities from Cape Town and Johannesburg to New York and Connecticut in the United States. 

Nard is a graffiti artist/street artist/mural artist who also does customising, gallery art and vector art. She likes to change it up and do what ever strikes her mood! She says that she meets the coolest people, interact with the strangest people on the street and sees the strangest things on the streets. Painting has given Nard the opportunity to travel.

This is a quote from her website ” As an artist who aims to be globally recognized, Nard’s work touches diverse surfaces. Nard custom designs graphics for skateboards, skimboards, t-shirts, sneakers and helmets, as well as painting canvases and designing prints.” 

When Nard started painting she just wanted to paint letters and nothing else.  Eventually she got convinced to try out painting animals and then she was on a mission to paint as many different animals as she could. Now she paints people and animals tagging all her work with ” The Time is Now”.

 My favourite is this wolf by Nardstar. It portrays a transformation from animal to human. If you look carefully into the picture, you’ll see a human face that’s part of the image. It makes you realize what is actually happening with the environment.

Zebra suit by Interesni Kazki

Interesni Kazki zebra suit painting
Interesni Kazki zebra suit painting

This piece is entitled “Black or White”. done by street artist Interesni Kazki. This is their first piece of art that they have done in Woodstock, Cape town here in South-Africa. This first mural is also known as The zebra suit’. Intersni Kazki, is actually a pair of artists from the Ukraine. They are portraying our transformation from animal to man. They did this piece in 2013 for an international art activism collaboration which ran from 2009 until 2013.

Interesni Kazki zebra suit painting
Black and White by artist Interesni Kazki

‘Nature’s Blueprint’ beautifying Woodstock

Communities are the heart of counties, states and nations. When families thrive; communities thrive.  South Africa’s first suburb, Woodstock, has seen incredible change over its years – some good, some bad, some still-to-be-determined. But it is definitely one of the most colourful and art filled areas of Cape Town or South-Africa.

A colourful vertical garden in Woodstock
A colourful vertical garden in Woodstock

One of the local businesses, Nature’s Blueprint, has been installing colourful vertical gardens all over Woodstock. They are passionate locals trying to beautify the hood! Along with these vertical gardens other artists have installed beautiful art pieces made from natural resources all over the neighbourhood.

The Woodstock community is an inner-city area of small traders, artisans and many unemployed who are under threat of being slowly evicted or bought out of this area which is undergoing regeneration. Although this process of urban renewal and regeneration is changing the face of Woodstock, it sadly does not draw on the rich cultural heritage and diversity of the community from the area.

Natures Blueprint Horticultural Services is a value added service company, offering imaginative Design Solutions, cost and time accurate Landscape Construction and on going Pro Active Maintenance. They are passionate about giving back to the community where they live and work.

 colourful vertical gardens in Woodstock
Love the vertical garden “tree”

These vertical gardens are a great way of doing so and I would love to see what other neighbourhoods can come up with to enrich and beautify their area.

The Eagle and Street art by Jack Fox

Eagle done by artist Sonny
Eagle done by artist Sonny

WOODSTOCK is a hub of art and creativity, from artists in residence to fancy galleries which can be hushed and intimidating, but its streets are bright and alive with vibrant and meaningful murals and paintings which are accessible to everyone. All you have to do is look. On one of the many art filled corners of Woodstock I came across this huge eagle and the giant white piece around the corner that looks like a dog caught my attention. I just had to find out who the artists were, especially after coming across another couple of pieces done by the same artists.

The eagle is done by Sonny, a British-born artist living in South Africa
The eagle is done by Sonny, a British-born artist living in South Africa

The eagle is done by Sonny, a British-born artist living in South Africa. It’s a paid piece of artwork, done for the art gallery upstairs. Some of his most notable work is his mural of David Ogilvy at the Johannesburg Ogilvy offices, this majestic golden eagle in Woodstock and his leaping leopard called “The Leap” outside a building in Braamfontein. He’s known for painting wild animals and using bright colours to do so. In an interview with Times Live, he said “I like to paint animals and see them break out of clouds with element of light.” 

The black and white work of the dog is by Jack Fox
The black and white work of the dog is by Jack Fox

The black and white work of the dog on the other side of the building is by Jack Fox, who is only 17 years old. He’s the son of Faith47, a very well-known graffiti artist whose beautiful work is also found all over Cape Town. If you look closely, you’ll see there’s messages on the dog, and on each of his other art works I found here in Woodstock. 
I love that her son is following in her footsteps, and they both have their own unique and very distinctive painting style.

Jack Fox has not only produced murals, he has taken part in gallery projects in Paris, Berlin, Madagascar, New York, Switzerland, Malaga and Cape Town. I have been on the lookout for more of his work all around the city and have come across 3 more pieces of his work here in Woodstock alone.

Piece done by Jack Fox
You Have more to Learn than you have to Hide, by Jack Fox

Jack Fox had drawn to the graffiti scene since an early age. But, as he got older he became increasingly interested in street art. His individual style and techniques drew him to street art.  Jack Fox is trying to connect his street art, animation and music to create a reflection of his life. He always tries to draw with feeling behind the image and don’t always use sketches. 

“We are creating social change in Woodstock through street art,” he said. “Not everyone gets the meaning of graffiti which is often difficult to understand and read. But murals are art with meaning which are educational and inspiring.”

A piece by a young artist who goes by the name of The Jack Fox.
A piece by a young artist who goes by the name of The Jack Fox.

“Minor Refusal” mural in Woodstock

"Minor Refusal" mural in Woodstock
“Minor Refusal” mural in Woodstock

Woodstock in Cape Town, South Africa is filled with many pieces of street art that portray everyday life. Up on the side of the wall there’s a big piece of a handshake, called a Minor Refusal. It’s a twisted handshake where the man seems to be friendly, but at the same time he’s removing you out of your home. 

This is said to portray what is going on at the moment in Woodstock. Where locals are being pushed out, their places bought up as they cant afford to live here any longer. They are forced to move out of the city and end up having to commute for hours to their daily jobs.

Giraffe and Blue Crane by artist Mak1One

As we walked down Frere Street in Woodstock, Cape Town during my street art tour we came across these beautiful Blue Crane and  Giraffe pieces. These animals are indigenous to Africa and the Blue crane is actually the national bird of South Africa. The giraffe is done by Mak1One, who is portraying the saving of these giraffes. There are only about 2500 left worldwide. Its sad that people still hunt these beautiful creatures.

The Blue Crane is the South African national bird. Mak1One is trying to give people the knowledge and awareness of what’s happening to these beautiful birds in our land through this piece of art.

Mak1One was born and raised in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town and discovered the expressive medium of graffiti art in the late 1980’s. It empowered hin to express who he was and what I was thinking. Mak1One harnesses the power of graffiti art to inform and challenge in much of mhis work to bring social, educational and uplifting messages to those living in areas plagued by poverty and social injustice who often have limited access to information.

Woodstock, South-Africa, street art walking tour

Woodstock, South-Africa, street art walking tour
Woodstock, South-Africa, street art walking tour

You learn so much about a city and its culture through its art. Street art is one of these hugely expressive forms that cover every aspect of city life and things happening at the moment. I have come to realize that street art differs from country to country and couldn’t wait to see what the street art of Woodstock in Cape Town, South Africa looked like.

Woodstock is one of the most vibrant hubs in South Africa, populated by creative minds, lots of working creative studios and boutiques all sharing the same space with a  very tightly knit community. On Saturdays the area comes a life as the Old Biscuit mill becomes home to hand made crafts and deliciously fresh food. But then the area is also filled with people and cars so its quite crowded.

I had a day off during the week so I signed up for the Woodstock street art tour and was very lucky as I actually ended up having a private tour!  This unique tour of World class street art costs R150 pp and the money goes directly to the artist that you walk with. I got Juma, one of the street artists who works with Freddy Sam, as my guide!

Note that Woodstock is still a rough area, the reason I joined a tour and didnt brave the streets on my own. I was quite lucky to have Juma as my guide.  The whole community know him and everyone sitting outside their homes wanted to say hi to Juma, it was great fun!

The tour starts from his shop at the Woodstock Exchange and snakes through the neighbourhood of Woodstock passing nearly 40 artworks. It was a hot and sunny day but with a light breeze to cool us down it was a lovely walk.

The guide told wonderful stories of the people and artists living in Woodstock while I got to explore the artworks of world-renowned street artists such as locals Freddie Sam, Faith47, Falko One and international artists Know Hope (Israel), Jaz (Argentina) and Gaia (USA). Each artist has his or her own unique painting style or message they are trying to convey.

It is said that in 2010 a street artist called Freddy Sam started a street art revolution in Woodstock. He started by asking residents if they would allow him to paint on open walls – showing them the art before painting and getting their permission first. This has inspired other local and international artists to come and work in the area. This guided tour has definitely shown me how street art does not merely act as embellishment for the area’s buildings but can also help create positive socio-economic changes within the community.

I absolutely loved the walking tour. Woodstock is an area in transition, the absolutely fabulous architecture along with the colourful street art is creating a vibrant an d lively area.  An area that not only houses artists but also inspires them and tries to help and uplift them.

The tour lasted an hour and a half and to think we only visited the most important street art works. The rest of Woodstock is slowly also being covered in colourful art and I will definitely be back again to explore the other pieces of art.

Save Our Rhinos

Since the start of the poaching epidemic in 2008 South Africa has lost over 4000 rhinos – a figure that, despite so much effort, increases daily.

Sadly, few people realize the challenges facing those on the frontlines – thousands of kilometers to patrol with little to no idea of where the poachers plan to hit next. The organised crime syndicates that run poaching gangs are ruthless, often involved in other syndicated crime like vehicle theft and cash-in-transit heists. Rhino horn is just another commodity to them, but with less risk. They have established networks, including insiders within the authorities, and strive to make connections with reserve staff to disclose information on rhino and ranger locations. Corruption, at the end of the day, is our greatest enemy.

Wordless Wednesday: Cape Town street art

Streetwires, home to a shop and working artist’s studio in the picturesque Bokaap, Cape Town. Streetwires was started in 2000, and this Proudly South African project provides training, support and materials to unemployed people who in turn use their artistic capabilities to create African wire and bead art.

Streetwires, home to a shop and working artist’s studio in the picturesque Bokaap, Cape Town.
Streetwires, home to a shop and working artist’s studio in the picturesque Bokaap, Cape Town.

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Wordless Wednesday: Peaceful art

Peaceful Street Art of Santiago, Chile
Peaceful Street Art of Santiago, Chile

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Wordless Wednesday: South-Africa, Cape Town Street Art

South-Africa, Cape Town Street Art

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: From Pieces to Peace

“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal”- John Lennon

From Pieces to Peace
From Pieces to Peace

“Peace is the only battle worth waging”- Albert Camus

From Pieces to Peace
From Pieces to Peace

“Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal”- Martin Luther King Jr

From Pieces to Peace
From Pieces to Peace

“Peace cannot be kept by force, it can only be achieved by understanding”- Albert Einstein

From Pieces to Peace
From Pieces to Peace

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Art on the streets of Cape Town, the city I am living in right now.

The best way to get to know a new town or city is by walking through its streets, not following a map but just walking around and getting to know the different areas of the city. While exploring “The Fringe” District of Cape Town yesterday I came across some very beautiful street art pieces and couldn’t wait to share it with you guys. The Fringe is Cape Town’s Innovation District. The Fringe is based on an urban “science park” model. A science park is defined by the International Association of Science Parks as “an organisation managed by specialised professionals, whose main aim is to increase the wealth of its community by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of its associated businesses and knowledge-based institutions”.

I moved to Cape Town about 5 months ago and have settled into a tiny bachelors flat right in “The Fringe” District which is walking distance from all the main areas of Cape Town. I live just down the road from the famous Cape Castle, 15min walk from the beautiful Company Gardens and just a 30min walk to where I am working in the Cape Quarter.

For the first time in years I am actually living alone and “settling in” to my new home has taken me some time. At last I do feel at home in my flat and my new city and work and have started to explore Cape Town in more detail.  I am definitely getting to know the town although I must admit that I do still get lost every now and again and sometimes it takes me quite a while to find my way back.

At the moment Cape Town is filling up with beautiful street art as part of the ‘Accidental Art’ project. The aim of the project is to draw attention to art and design by allowing the public to get involved and interact with the art in places that they live in and visit. They are ‘taking art outside’ and both known and undiscovered local artists are involved with this project.

All over the city and especially in the urban areas art is making an appearance and it is some of these art projects that I got to capture and share here with you guys. The  ‘Accidental Art’ project is very three dimensional in that it looks to different mediums such as ceramic pavers and tiles, painted surfaces and graffiti-style murals to execute the artworks which can be showcased on anything from street furniture, pavements, walkways, doors and walls. It’s merely taking the concept that modern artists like Banksy are a part of by using the city’s urban structures and spaces as the gallery space and canvas. It is an exciting project that is still in its development phase but is sure to draw attention to the way in which we use the urban space in the creative sphere.

Goodbye graffiti filled Santiago!

Santiago is filled with colour and street art
Santiago is filled with colour and street art
What a lovely colourful place to live
What a lovely colourful place to live

I found myself in Chile, living in a beautiful city and with a lovely job that I really enjoyed but there was something wrong. As I walked through this beautiful city it felt like I should be somewhere else.

 

I realized that unfortunately my heart wasn’t in it anymore. I usually see my adjustment in foreign countries as an adventure but this time a bit of the adventure had turned into “work”. 

I will miss walking down the colourful tree lined streets of Santiago
I will miss walking down the colourful tree lined streets of Santiago
Enjoying my last stroll through Santiago
Enjoying my last stroll through Santiago
Santiago has introduced me to the world of beautiful street art
Santiago has introduced me to the world of beautiful street art
Santiago was a warm and friendly place to live
Santiago was a warm and friendly place to live

 My heart has made it clear that its time for a huge change in my life.

 

I have now left Chile and am now back in the UK from where I am planning my next move. I am thinking that its time for an adventure in my home country! 

My last walk through the peaceful streets of Santiago
My last walk through the peaceful streets of Santiago
Goodbye graffiti filled streets of Santiago
Goodbye graffiti filled streets of Santiago
I am definitely going to be on the look out for street art from now on
I am definitely going to be on the look out for street art from now on

Graffiti / Street Art fill the streets of Santiago, Chile

A lot of the buildings in Bellavista district are covered in graffiti
A lot of the buildings in Bellavista district are covered in graffiti
A lot of the graffiti is really beautiful!
A lot of the graffiti is really beautiful!

Chile has long been the center for radical propaganda painting. As early as 1940 leading Mexican and Chilean artists were painting murals in Chile. Now, Latin American street art is as innovative as any in the world and Chile plays a really big part in this.

 I was amazed by the amount and quality of graffiti that covered the walls of Santiago. I spent hours walking through the streets taking photographs of the beautiful “art works” that are on display throughout the city.

Chile has embraced an era of new freedoms since the end of Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1990 and made up for some lost time. Most of the contemporary artists and graffiteros in Santiago have their roots in Latin American propaganda murals but are looking forward more and more. In 1991 crews of graffiti artists started to work in Santiago and they even formed collectives.

I havent found one street in this old neighbourhood that doesnt have a painted wall or decorated building
I havent found one street in this old neighbourhood that doesnt have a painted wall or decorated building
Mural painting is actually encouraged in Santiago
Mural painting is actually encouraged in Santiago

I have learned that it is not only Santiago that is covered in graffiti but the while of Chile, from Arica to Punta Arenas.  Chile is at the southwest edge of the world, cut off from neighbouring countries by the Andes and this has definitely influences its cultural eccentricity.

Today outside mural painting in Chile is encouraged from school age on. The city’s street artists have painted Santiago into one of the hemisphere’s best concentrations of what has been called the last major pictorial form of the twentieth century.

I love that the whole block seems to be covered in street art!
I love that the whole block seems to be covered in street art!
I love the brightly painted walls!
I love the brightly painted walls!

I will always remember Santiago as the city covered in graffiti, the city that got me interested in street art!

Murals even make old tired buildings beautiful!
Murals even make old tired buildings beautiful!

Travel theme: Peaceful Park Quinta Normal of Santiago

The Autumn coloured tree lined paths of Park Quinta Nornal
The Autumn coloured tree lined paths of Park Quinta Nornal
The park is a perfect place to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon
The park is a perfect place to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon

The perfect place for me relax to be peaceful is when I am surrounded by nature and its beauty. This week’s travel theme from Ailsa is peaceful.

Sunday afternoon I found myself walking through park Quinta Normal and its many tree lined paths. This was definitely one of my favourite peaceful moments so far on my travels through Chile.

Love the colours of autumn!!
Love the colours of autumn!!
This is the stunning street art at the entrance of Park Quinta Normal
This is the stunning street art at the entrance of Park Quinta Normal
The museums inside the park are covered in graffiti
The museums inside the park are covered in graffiti

 This park houses four of Santiago’s main museums: the Natural History Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) Quinta Normal, Museum of Science and Technology and the Santiago Railway Museum. On Sundays you can visit these museums for free so the park is usually very busy then. I was quite lucky that on this Sunday it was a bit chilly so most of the tree lined lanes in the park were deserted and I could wonder around in the peace and quiet all afternoon.

I cant believe that they would allow graffiti on the side of the museum building
I cant believe that they would allow graffiti on the side of the museum building
The front of one of the museums inside the park.
The front of one of the museums inside the park.

Not only are most of the buildings surrounding the park covered in street art, so too are the buildings that house the museums inside the park. The graffiti that cover most of these building are mini art works and quite lovely to look at. It just amazes me that the government would actually allow people to paint on the side of museums and even churches. I have never seen this in any other country that I have traveled through. 

Little graffiti covered cafe close to Park Quinta Normal
Little graffiti covered cafe close to Park Quinta Normal
You cant walk down a street in Santiago and not find some street art!
You cant walk down a street in Santiago and not find some street art!
Some of the Street artists of Santiago are very talented!
Some of the Street artists of Santiago are very talented!

Five things that nobody warned me about when I moved to Santiago.

There are some things that I definitely wish that people would have warned me about when I moved to Chile. I had read a lot about Chile and its culture and people before arriving and thought that I was quite prepared for what was to come. But within the first week I realized that I was quite ill prepared for the little custom differences.

Some of the unexpected things that happened to me that nobody warned me about:

Santiago is covered with graffiti
Santiago is covered with graffiti
A lovely church found down Lastaria street
A lovely church found down Lastaria street

 1.           Chilean people greet you by grabbing your hand, pulling you close to them, placing the other hand on your shoulder and then kiss you on the cheek!! I don’t really do public affection and definitely don’t like strangers touching me. Having strangers touch me makes me very, very uncomfortable and I usually respond by pulling away. And actually having strangers kissing me is freaking me out a lot!! The morning of my first class, when I met my student (male) for the first time, I went to shake his hand and he leaned in to try and kiss me on the cheek. I immediately stepped back and ducked this, thinking weirdo!! For the whole first lesson I thought my student was some kind of pervert who tried to kiss me the first time he met me!!

My second class started off the same way and I had 3 students grabbing hold of my hand and shoulder and placing kisses on my cheek. I was freaked out!!!

I was only told later that day that this is the normal way for Chileans to greet each other. It would have been nice to have been warned beforehand just so that I could have prepared myself for all this unwanted physical contact from strangers.

Santiago is filled with beautiful street art!
Santiago is filled with beautiful street art!
Patio Bellavista where you get a mixture of local and international cuisine!
Patio Bellavista where you get a mixture of local and international cuisine!

 2.          I know that each country has different dishes and prepare things differently and I usually have loads of fun trying out all the weird things they dish up. But every once in a while I am in need of some comfort food, something familiar that in my mind is “normal”. You do expect some things like hot-dogs or hamburgers to basically be the same all over the world. So I was definitely not pleasantly surprised when I ordered these dishes when I needed some comfort food and they ended up not being what I expected.

  • Hot dogs here are served with salsa, guacamole, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard! It is not a very tasty combination and I had to force myself to actually eat it. If I wasn’t so hungry that afternoon I would have thrown it away!

Why would you combine guacamole and mayonnaise?

  • I ordered a normal chicken burger one Sunday afternoon and it arrived with a combination that I would never have suspected in a million years. On my burger I had chicken, tomato and NOT lettuce but GREEN BEANS!! Yes, green beans and this all they covered with mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard!! After I scraped off the green beans I could actually eat the burger. My students told me that this is normal for them and couldn’t believe that I didn’t enjoy it.
The streets of Santiago are empty and deserted on a weekend before 12 am
The streets of Santiago are empty and deserted on a weekend before 12 am
Most of the clubs and pubs in Santiago have colourful walls and entrances
Most of the clubs and pubs in Santiago have colourful walls and entrances

3.       Chilean people start their evenings very late and a lot of the restaurants in the Bellavista area only open up around 7pm. They then stay up most of the evening thus sleep in very late, especially on weekends. During my first couple of weekends here I would go walking around the city early Saturday and Sunday morning around 8 or 9am. Santiago looks and feels like a ghost town that time of the morning!! There are no people around, the streets are deserted and you can not find anyplace open for a nice morning coffee. This made me really skeptical about this place I had chosen to live in for a while. People only appear out doors after 12am in the mornings. Something that will definitely take me a very long time to get used to.

Walking down the deserted streets of Santiago on a Saturday has a very eerie feel to it.
Walking down the deserted streets of Santiago on a Saturday has a very eerie feel to it.
I wonder where the street artists get their inspiration and ideas from?
I wonder where the street artists get their inspiration and ideas from?

4.        Chilean people are very relaxed and take things very easy. Don’t get me wring I think that living a chilled life is excellent, but them being so relaxed about everything has caused me some irritation.

  • First of all they are never on time!! They are always late and cancel things at the last minute!! For someone like me who always arrives on time or even early this is a big irritation.
  • Secondly, they permanently walk like they are on a Sunday stroll. Most of the time this is ok but during rush hour when I am trying to get to work on time this does irritate me endlessly. I am always swerving around people and feel like I am the only one rushing somewhere or trying to be on time for work!!

Maybe in time I will be able to adopt this relaxed attitude, although I do think it will take quite a while.

Love the little street cafe's that are dotted all over Santiago!
Love the little street cafe’s that are dotted all over Santiago!
Mural close to Pablo Nevruda's house here in Santiag
Mural close to Pablo Nevruda’s house here in Santiago

5.         It is very, very hard to find a good cup of coffee in Santiago! I can not start my day without a cup of coffee and usually end up having about 3 or 4 cups of coffee during my day. I love sitting in café’s with a cup of coffee and a good book on weekends. I have tried a couple of different coffee shops and I have basically given up on a cup of good coffee at a local cafe  Which is quite sad as Santiago has quite a couple of cafes with lovely outside seating. Chilean cappuccinos have more cream on top than there is coffee in the cappuccino and the coffee is very bitter. I have now started looking out for Starbucks cafes as here you know exactly what you are going to get when you order a cappuccino or latte!! 

The streets of Santiago are deserted before 10am in the morning
The streets of Santiago are deserted before 10am in the morning

I am sure that there will be a few more surprises for me before I leave Santiago and actually look forward to experiencing them.