Padre Cruz is a neighbourhood in the north eastern suburbs of Lisbon. Filled with giant blocks of flats housing the workers of the city. It was the location of the MURO street art festival in 2016 which saw local and international artists use the enormous walls as their canvas.
A partnership between the local parish of Carnide and the Galeria de Arte Urbana of Lisbon City Council. The murals created have transformed the district into a must see urban art gallery. The enormous works on the side of the high rises are joined by a series of smaller pieces on the adjacent streets. Of those, many are now derelict and quite possibly not long for this world. The art nestles up against old crumbling walls, the orange trees and the cats.
THE MURO STREET ART FESTIVAL
Taking place between April 20 and May 15 2016. This festival (known as ‘the wall’ in English) sought to transform the neighborhood of Bairro Padre Cruz. Described as one of the biggest ‘low income residential neighborhoods in Portugal‘. This was as much about transformation as it was about art. The area is undergoing a huge regeneration and this is a part of it. Many of the original houses were built in the 50’s as pre-fabs as a quick response to a housing need in the city. They were never meant to last. Many have now been replaced with the high rises which dominate the area.
Not that this wasn’t about putting Lisbon on the map as a major centre for street art and graffiti either. The city is well known for it’s high quality urban art. Indeed the city council takes a positive view of it and you can see this in the quality of curation all around the city. The art has been used here to drive a change in the perception of the urban environment. Gone are the bland walls. Replaced instead by eye-catching and thought provoking works of art.
LISBON STREET ARTISTS
Lisbon can boast some of the World’s very best street artists. The likes of Vhils, Add Fuel and Bordalo II are known for their unique styles. Their work is sought after and can be seen across Lisbon and in other cities around the world. It’s also not just the Galeria de Arte Urbana which curates murals. The Underdogs initiative, a cultural platform set up in 2010, also promotes public art. It boasts a gallery and has it’s own series of commissioned murals across the city
Look around Padre Cruz and you’ll be able to spot works from so many artists. A blend of local and international. From Portugal strong works can be seen from the likes of Mario Belem, Daniel Eime, Nomen, Oze Arv, Mr Dheo and Tamara Alves. Whilst from further afield pieces from Borondo from Spain, Utopia from Brazil and Low Bros from Germany. Works from Bosoletti and Felipe Pantone from Argentina and Telmo Miel, the duo from the Netherlands, can also be seen.
STREET ART AND URBAN REGENERATION
As major set piece street art events go. Few can claim to have had such a legacy as the work in Bairro Padre Cruz. The murals have certainly transformed the neighbourhood. Linked to urban regeneration. It’s another example of where street art has been used to enhance the visual appeal of an area. It may not be the only means at a local councils disposal but it’s one where the impact is immediately noticeable.
Back in the UK it’s a pattern we’ve seen more and more of. Forward thinking town authorities are supporting groups of artists and curators in order to enhance the visual appeal of their neighbourhoods. Recent examples in the likes of Cheltenham, Blackburn and Aberdeen have shown just what can be achieved when they work together. Certainly the barriers are crumbling ever quicker when it comes to placing street art into town’s and cities. And Lisbon looks like it’s leading the way.
Bairro Padre Cruz in Lisbon was visited on 2nd and 3rd February 2019. The Muro Street Art Festival took place in the neighbourhood from 20 April 2016 to 15 May 2016. I am also grateful to Matty and Fiona for taking the time to show us around.For another great post about street art in Lisbon have a look at this street art guide to Lisbon from our friends at Blocal