Interview with Argentinas Fio Silva as she paints her way around Europe and places her art onto the World stage

I first became aware of Fio Silva through an international competition arranged by the Spring Projects to find ‘The Next Best Thing‘ in street art. Entrants from all around the World were whittled down to five and then just one in a painstaking process to find a street art star of the future who had the ability and talent to crossover and be recognised the World over. It was as a judge as part of this process that I got to know Fio’s work in the suburbs of Buenos Aires.

Now, although the streets of London are a far cry from home, this is where Fio Silva finds herself, painting the walls of the city having won the Spring Projects ‘Next Best Thing‘ talent contest.

Fio Silva outside her wall in the centre of Shoreditch.  Photo by Rob Wilson Jnr

Fio Silva outside her wall in the centre of Shoreditch. Photo by Rob Wilson Jnr

Flying to Europe was a first having never previously been on a plane before or even held a passport. She first touched down in Bologna, the home of Spring Projects founder Bri Patty. Painting a quick wall there with locally based Dutch artist Zedz, her next stop was London where she would ultimately paint at the Femme Fierce festival in the famous Banksy Tunnel underneath Londons Waterloo.

Meeting in person for the first time, Fios first London wall was to be in the up and coming artist hotspot of Croydon near to the RISE Gallery which had hosted a warm up to the Femme Fierce festival some weeks before in the newly dubbed ‘Croydon Arts Quarter‘. A trip to North London the day after saw her paint as part of the exciting Turnpike Arts Project. This was followed by trips into Shoreditch, the heart of the London street art scene, to paint at the famous Shoreditch Art Wall and then inside Montys Bar, the cool bustling artist hangout on Brick Lane.

All this activity was packaged around the main event when on International Womens Day 8 March 2015, Fio Silva joined over 150 female street artists to transform the famous Banksy tunnel as part of the Worlds biggest all female street art festival. Such was the interest in her home country she was also invited for an audience with the Argentinian ambassador as the culmination of a whirlwind tour in which she left her mark on the city. All this prior to leaving in order to paint walls in Amsterdam, Barcelona and Milan.

Fio grew in up Hurlingham in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, an industrial neighbourhood with humble people. Growing up she describes it as a time of “cute and fun experiences”. It was here in Hurlingham where her love of art was also born although painting outside was a late response to a personal tragedy. Today though she says “it is what I love to do and what I need to do above all things.”

Fio painting her wall in Montys Bar, Brick Lane

Fio painting her wall in Montys Bar, Brick Lane

Her inspirations she says, come from her relationships. Her family history and her neighbours “I think all the situations that I experienced were and are inspirations for what I do” says Fio. “There is no place that I love to paint more than the streets, I think it is the best place to express what I do, because it’s public and everyone has access to see what you do.”

In Argentina, as in much of South America, street art is a lot more ingrained in the culture. “The public space is open to all” explains Fio “both graffiti and urban art, many people go to work in the streets and most people accept it and like it”. Finding wall space is not an issue with people willing to offer up their walls and doors “it is socially accepted” she explains. Even to the point that many councils go some way to encouraging it with street art murals becoming a kind of mini-industry.

At her first wall in London in the Croydon Arts Quarter

At her first wall in London in the Croydon Arts Quarter

“Changing the colour, shape and the content of a wall is mind blowing” says Fio as she explains further what attracts her to the streets. “People understand it, are suprised and feel connected to it. Maybe there is this person walking to work every day always next to this gray and empty wall, but then one day it is alive again with new colors, something that perhaps moves. It evokes something in the people.”

And that is perhaps what drives her to paint her dynamic murals. Animals fused with organic things such as leaves, branches and trees “I love to paint things that are moving” says Fio, “they are not static things, they mutate to become that change.” For Fio movement seems to be key in her art and any casual observers would be able to see that too, the energy with which she embraces her murals is obvious to see.

Taking part in the Turnpike Arts Group project in North London

Taking part in the Turnpike Arts Group project in North London

“I love to paint animals, I love to paint things that are moving…things that express force! I think these are concepts that have much weight in my life…I believe that everyone needs to move, everything moves, something ends and something else begins, everything. Often I try to represent all that in an animal.”

This was a theme picked up by photographer Alexandra Henry also a judge who as part of a panel was responsible for identifying Fio as the winner of the ‘Next Big Thing’ project. “Fio Silva and her street art strongly represent the pool of incredible female talent emerging in South America.” said Alexandra. “With animals and nature as her central focus, she brings attention to movement, change, and evolution, reminding us that nothing is permanent.”

Fio Silva painting on the Shoreditch Art Wall by Rob Wilson Jnr

Fio Silva painting on the Shoreditch Art Wall by Rob Wilson Jnr

London and Europe now represent a new canvas for this lover of movement. A new place in which to paint her dynamic animals. “Winning this competition meant something really amazing in my life” said Fio. “Actually, I never thought that something like this could happen. I always thought that something like this could only ever happen in a movie or something like that. I never even went on a plane in my life, and I am one of the happiest people on the planet.”

“In life you never have to stop looking and being curious with every single thing that happens around you” Fio says. “The street is a beautiful place to say something, to express art, to protest, to know the other. I am grateful for all the people I met in this constant search. I never cease to be grateful for life, in both the good and in the bad because it is all part of the same thing.”

Fio Silva is an Argentinian street artist who won the international ‘Next Best Thing’ search organised in a collaboration between the Spring Projects and Femme Fierce. She was interviewed via email prior to her journey to London. Since in Europe she has painted in London, Bologna, Milan, Amsterdam and Barcelona as part of a two week tour. The Spring Projects will be launching their new street art related project ‘Big Dream’ on 21 March 2015 so keep an eye on their website

Fio Silva European Tour

Bologna, Italy – 4 March 2015 – collaboration with Zedz

Fio Silva collaboration with Zedz in Italy

Fio Silva collaboration with Zedz in Italy

Croydon, London with the RISE Gallery – 5 March 2015

A snake in Croydon

A snake in Croydon

Turnpike Lane, London with the Turnpike Arts Group- 6 March 2015

Roaring lion and birds in Turnpike Lane with work from ATM

Roaring lion and birds in Turnpike Lane with work from ATM

Shoreditch Art Wall, Shoreditch, London with Zina, LisArt and Zabou for Plan UK’s ‘Because I’m a Girl’ campaign – 7 March 2015

Free as a bird by Fio Silva by Rob Wilson Jnr

Free as a bird by Fio Silva. Picture by Rob Wilson Jnr

Leake Street Tunnel, London for Femme Fierce: Reloaded – 8 March 2015

Rhino in the tunnel

Rhino in the tunnel

Montys Bar, Brick Lane, London – 9 March 2015

Two stags in Montys Bar on Brick Lane.  Picture by Fio Silva

Two stags in Montys Bar on Brick Lane. Picture by Fio Silva

Spuistraat, Amsterdam, Holland with Amsterdam Street Art – 11 March 2015

Fio Silva with

Fio Silva collaboration with Sjem Bakkus from Amsterdam Street Art.

Hope Box, Amsterdam, Holland with Plan NL – 12 March 2015

Fio Silva painting at the Hope Box in Amsterdam

Fio Silva painting at the Hope Box in Amsterdam

Barcelona, Spain with Street Art Barcelona – 13 March 2015

Fio Silva in Barcelona

Fio Silva in Barcelona

Milan, Italy, European Tour Finale collaboration with Microbo for Spazio Tadini with guest DJ Esa and HT Krew – 14 March 2015

Fio Silva Monster in Milan

Fio Silva Monster in Milan. Photo by Daniel Lucas