As cathedrals go in Barcelona, the undisputed champion would be, of course, the Sagrada Familia. You won’t find any pictures of it here, not because I don’t love it, but because a google search will yield hundreds of thousands of photos that would be much better taken than anything I could manage with my modest mobile photography skills. But I digress…

There are a number of other cathedrals worth checking out, most notably the Cathedral of Barcelona and the bustling plaza which surrounds it. My favourite, however, is in the Born neighbourhood, and a bit closer to the sea, hence the name: Santa Maria del Mar. I won’t post any pictures either, as I would hardly do it justice–but I definitely recommend it.

While you’re there, after you’ve marveled at majestic Basilica, take a turn onto a small side street called Mirallers, marked on the map here, and start walking along this street till the end. You should also be careful not to miss the surrounding streets, especially carrer d’en Rosic and carrer de Grunyí. Be on the lookout for some of the huge, old doors that have been covered in stickers, pasteups and all different sorts of images. With all signs pointing to the disappearance of the Galeria Magdalena to make room for a new construction project, this may be one of the only outdoor galleries we have left, aside from the free walls.

 

Just round the corner from my flat on the street Torrent d’en Vidalet, I was surprised to find an outdoor photography installation which had been wheatpasted onto the wall of a building which houses a parking garage. The photos are a chronicle of the photographer’s travels through Uzbekistan. The black and white photos are slices of everyday life in a place many would have trouble pointing out on a map, but is just as active and alive as Times Square or Picadilly Circus.

The photographer’s name is Aleix Melé. Here is a link to his facebook page and tumblr blog.

I decided to add an extra entry this month in place of my normal two so that as many of you as possible can check out this outdoor exhibition. I think it’s an excellent way to display public art, and I hope to see more in the future.

This installation can be found here. (Google maps)

These images are taken from my latest trip to “Agricultura”, which is one of the more active of the free walls projects. Among my favorites are the cursed, cobra, the graffiti version of “The Thinker”, and the airborne cluster of houses. There was also a reference to the current political tension between Catalonia and the Spanish central government, with the image of a person in a grey t-shirt from whose head is exploding an estelada, the flag which celebrates the idea of Catalan independence. It looks as if someone with a can of black paint is not in favour of the idea of independence, as the word cabrón (asshole, son of a bitch, etc.) scrawled across this image would suggest.

As noted in the title, Street Scraps has garnered yet another mention, this time in the reader-selected Best Barcelona Blogs 2016. I’m honoured to be among a group of people who feel as passionate about our city as I do. You can check out the page here. Also be sure to check out the main page for Spotted by Locals, as it is full of great content for cities all over the world, selected by people who know them best–the locals.

Bcn Street Scraps is entering its fifth year, and has continued to evolve from a blog with pictures (sometimes several posts a day) and just a brief snarky comment or two to a blog with (ideally) two posts a month, but with much more commentary about the context of the images and what impression they have on me.

For 2016, I intend to carry on with these types of posts, but I’ve also decided to make some modifications. One of the first, and most important, is that going forward I will try to give the location of each image or group of images. It will probably happen via captions on the pictures, or if all the pictures in a post are from the same location, I’ll give the location in the post itself.

Another change which I’ve been procrastinating on for quite a while is the addition of a blog roll on the page. I’ve received quite a bit of attention over the last year or two from some great blogs which have in turn become a part of my regular reading list. Since a big part of the internet is sharing, it’s only right that I share these with my readers.

The final change is a bit of an experiment. Aside from street art, another one of my great interests is eating and drinking. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’m a “foodie”, but I most definitely appreciate good food and drink as much as I appreciate discovering a hot piece of public art. I’ve been toying with the idea of sharing some of my tastier experiences with readers and have decided that the new year would be as good a moment as any to introduce this new concept. And don’t worry, Street Scraps won’t be littered with pictures of every burger or plate of patates braves I order; as with my street shots, I’ll try to include only the best of the best. Any reader feedback would be greatly appreciated!

I’ll also (weather permitting) be travelling to NYC  where I’m hoping to bring back some NYC street scraps (both visual and edible) so stay tuned.

To wrap up, I just wanted to give a shout out to one of the guest posts that I did over the past year. This one comes from the travel blog Culture Trip. You can find my post here.

2015-11-07 12.17.43

Carrer de Treball, Murs lliures project

 

These photos were taken on the 11th of September, which is the National Day of Catalunya, and the streets where I was wandering that day were abuzz with preparations for the demonstrations and celebrations of Catalan language and culture. The celebrations have become especially crowded over the last few years as the campaign for independence from Spain continues to gather steam, evident from the sea of estelades, which is the Catalan independence flag.

In order to avoid the crowds, I was trying to find some shortcuts which would take me over or under the long Avinguda Meridiana, which was the focal point of this year’s celebrations. As I was walking near the Torre Agbar, the loved/hated cucumber-shaped edifice which emerges from the urban landscape just near the the Plaça de Glories, I headed down a small hill and found an entire wall decorated with various tags and some fantastic murals. Facing the walls, on the other side of the vacant lot were a small group of chabolas, which are improvised shacks usually inhabited by Roma gypsies. Here is an example of some chabolas in Barcelona.

I was excited to find some new painted spots, as I’m finding fewer and fewer new images on my wanderings through the old city center. I hope to make a pilgrimage to this spot this week to see if there is anything new.

____________

As the title suggests, I’ve been receiving some requests for guest blog posts and interviews over the last few months, and I’d like to give a shout out to each one of them. The first one I did is part of the blog Homage to BCN, run by Rob Dobson. The feature which I did details my perfect day in Barcelona, which includes some good restaurant recommendations, as well as some highlights from Barcelona Street Scraps. Homage is one of my favorite blogs, and definitely should become a part of any reading list for anyone interested in the Ciutat Comtal.

 

Near one of the city’s most important transport hubs is the neighborhood of Sants, from which the train station gets its name. Once an independent village separate from the city of Barcelona, this residential neighborhood has a strong sense of identity due to its industrial root, and is home to what is considered to be one of the longest commercial streets in Europe, the Carrer de Sants.

Because of its rich industrial history, many of its buildings are perfect places for the once-common phenomenon of youth squats which become something like self-managed community centers, hosting all sorts of activities. As they are squats, there often arrives a moment when the building’s official owners decide to take control of the space, which usually means that squatters are asked to leave.

Such was the case of Can Vies, a squat that was established in 1997, and which became an epicenter of all manner of activities, performances and workshops. Its moment in the spotlight came in early 2014 when the building’s owner, the Barcelona Transport Authority decided to demolish the building.

The occupants, as well as others sympathetic to the squatter movement, didn’t take the forced eviction lying down, and the result were some intense days of street protests which made national news, and also spread to other Spanish cities.

The city ultimately decided to cancel the demolition, but not before destroying a good portion of the building, leaving basically ruins and parts of some of the walls. Two of the photos in this post show what remains of the squat, which has become something of a monument to resistance. The Can Vies website is still active, and activities, and plans for reconstruction, still continue.

Another photo is of a mural tribute to Can Vies which is on the previously mentioned Carrer de Sants. Finally, there are some random tidbits I found while wandering the surrounding streets.

Ever since the city council began its crackdown on antisocial behavior in 2006, finding examples of urban art in Barcelona has become increasingly difficult–to the point where nowadays when I go out wandering the city, it’s nearly impossible to find new work outside of the permitted places.

These shots come from one of those morning meanderings through the Raval and the Old City Centre. Finding a silver lining in this situation is about as difficult as the hunt for new art, but if I suppose the scarcity means that it’s much more satisfying when I do find something interesting.

Toward the end of August, as the traditional vacation month was reaching an end, I made my way down to the ever-changing street art site known as the Tres Xemeneies, which has become an outdoor canvas with the blessings of the city council. These can be found near the end of Parallel Avenue, just below the famous Apollo Disco and Theatre, and is hard to miss due to, as the name would suggest, the three huge smokestacks from the old electrical power plant, well-preserved reminders of Barcelona’s industrial past.

It’s now a park, which is more of a concrete than green space. As a result it has attracted its fair share of skaters who are perhaps looking for an alternative to the overcrowded plaza in front of the MACBA. The covered ampitheatre-like structure has been opened up after being fenced off for nearly a year, and has become home to two large murals, as well as a place to lay one’s head.

It seems to change quite frequently and is worth the trip if you don’t want to stray too far from the city center.

During the first week of August, I travelled to the Portuguese capital, as a friend had graciously offered up her flat, and the two cats who live there, for accomodations.

The city was as splendid as I had expected, and not overwhelming for a 4-day stay. I’m not sure if I managed to scale all seven hills, but my urban climbing muscles certainly received a decent workout. I would almost imagine it as a slightly more dilapidated Barcelona, spread out over San Fransisco-like terrain. My use of San Fransisco might possible be influenced by the fact that the old heart of the city has a number of old-time trolleys, if you’re tired of climbing the cobblestoned hills. I actually didn’t use them because they were always packed to the gills.

I did the double decker tour bus (good value for a quick tour and some historical context), but my most enjoyable trip round the city was in one of the hundreds of Tuk Tuks that now sputter their way through the narrow web of streets in the old city centre. The 45 minute tour was 50 euros, and was guided by a cheerful, well-informed university student. He was also quite intuitive, glossing over things like the history of the two or three cathedrals we passed, but making a point to stray off his beaten path and pass by some fantastic street art, particularly some famous pieces which form part of the Lisbon street art tour.

The first mural was a clearly political piece, as our guide explained some of the political heritage of the city, which soon became evident in a lot of the graffiti I spotted throughout the city.

I missed the official street art tour, by the way, but was able to find some of the important landmarks on my own, for example the GAU, or Galeria de Arte Urbana.

Other things not to be missed in Lisbon are the sardinhas assadas and fado–both of which I was able to enjoy in the same outdoor patio, which despite the crowds and the terrible Tripadvisor reviews, I quite enjoyed.

Impermanence is one of the things that most appeals to me about art found on the streets. I can return after a few days, weeks, or months, and find a completely different work of art. There are many people that would lament the damage done to the two images I present today, and I doubt that the person who scratched out the eyes on the stencil of the little girl from C215 had art in mind when he or she acted. Nonetheless, I think we have to accept, or even embrace this proces of decay and regeneration in the creation of a completely new work of art. If we want protected art, we can always go to a museum where the works are mostly (with this recent exception caught on video) protected from accidental and non-accidental damage. I’m not even sure damage is the correct word. Transitional blemishes?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 973 other followers