The writing’s on the wall

The writing’s on the wall

“Valparaiso, what an absurdity you are, how crazy: a crazy port. What a head of dishevelled hills, that you never finished combing. Never did you have time to dress yourself, and always you were surprised by life”

Pablo Neruda

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Ramshackle Valparaiso, affectionately named ‘Valpo’, is the home to masters of many crafts as well as aspiring artists, buskers, dock workers and more dogs that you can shake a stick at. Its laid back bohemian vibe is so endearing and masterpieces cover almost every surface in the city – you just need to remember to look down occasionally to dodge the dog poo.

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Modern graffiti began in 1967 in Philadelphia, USA. Rumour has it that a teenage boy at high school kept nagging the school cook for cornbread. The cook became so fed up that one day he went to the boy’s teacher and told him to  ‘keep that cornbread kid away from me’. The boy heard this and liked the way it sounded so wrote ‘Cornbread’ on the back of his t shirt. This in turn attracted attention and got people talking about this ‘cornbread kid’. He realised the impact that tagging an identity onto apparel had and began to wonder what would happen if he were to tag buildings as well. Cornbread began doing just this and by the late 1960’s tagging had caught on and reached NYC.

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Over the following five decades grafitti continued to spread and evolve and has lead to the incredible street art that can be seen all around the globe today.

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Graffiti is, believe it or not, illegal here in Valparaiso. However the community has so much love and support for street art that many people commission artists to decorate their homes and businesses. Before Valpo became the street art capital that it is today, spray paint was very difficult to get hold of and artists used to mix paints by hand to create their desired colours. Robe Fore, the artist above, opened the first spray paint shop in Valparaiso which was a huge stepping stone in the advancement of street art here.

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‘We are not hippies, we are happies’

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A take on old Van Gogh.

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This slope was once used to wash clothes. I’m not sure it would work so well for that purpose now.

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Cuellimangui’s work can be seen all over the world. His style is unique; he sprays random colours free hand then afterwards uses black spray paint to create what he calls his “creatures of the underworld”.

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Chris and Liam you can fight over which one you want when I get back.

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This building is the reason why Valparaiso is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Historically Valpo is a port city where shipping companies had a lot of control. One shipping company demanded that this beautiful old building should have a glass tower erected within it or they’d take their business elsewhere. If this building doesn’t illustrate a hideous power trip I don’t know what does.

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This is work by INTI, a very well known and respected street artist. He has a very distinctive style which caught the eye of Louise Vitton resulting in a collaboration in Spring/Summer 2014.

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Apparently in Chilean culture, people are often referred to in conversation as animals/ creatures depending on their personality and character.

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A muscle represents a person who has a hard exterior and the small rooster hiding behind the wall has big eyes and a tiny beak to illustrate somebody who watches everybody but says little (pay attention Rocko). These murals often refer to political activity at the time.

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Stencil work can be frowned upon by some street artists but I really like the following piece. It begins with the Pope saying ‘Blessed be the obedient flock’ then illustrates the mundane routine that us humans often find ourselves trapped in. Wake up, dress in appropriate workwear, eat mass produced processed foods, consume from huge corporations where goods have been imported from all over the world and heavily packaged. The last cow in the line has Micky Mouse ears signifying our need for entertainment. The piece finishes with Elvis saying ‘Buy the foreign rock ‘n’ roll dream’. Poignant I think.

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