A huge 18 story mural called Love for Nature has been painted on an apartment block in Chelyabinsk, Russia. In total it stands 50 metres high and covers 630 square metres. Painted by Vitaly Tsarenkov aka SY it was part of the Urban Morphogenesis mural festival taking place in the town.
The mural itself is a play on the concept of those who claim they have a love for nature but whose actions suggest otherwise. “It’s a usual thing in Russia, when you come to the countryside, to a forest or a lake, there is a lot of abandoned trash” explains Vitaly. “I always ask myself, how can you do it? Why don’t you take it away with you? Is it so difficult?”
At it’s heart this is what the mural in Chelyabinsk is about. People travelling to the countryside because they have a ‘love for nature’ but end up doing more harm than good. “It saddens me a lot because even one plastic cup, cigarette butt or whatever can spoil all the beauty of such places.
It’s something which Vitaly feels there’s not much excuse for. There is more information out there than ever before about environmental problems he says. “When you delve deeply into it, it shocks you and you start looking at the world around with a different perspective”.
Love for Nature Mural in Chelyabinsk
The mural itself has three core themes to it. In the foreground there are flowers with abandoned trash around them. A broken glass bottle and a still smoking cigarette butt. Near the foot of the main character, a campfire has been lit. A worm meanwhile crawls up his leg, escaping from the flames. The man himself has come to nature from the big city. He’s taking a selfie with a wolf and a butterfly. A bit of a joker, he’s taken a road cone and placed it on his head as a hat.
In the background, there is a busy highway. Lot’s of multi-storey buildings, harmful factories along with a plane and its emissions. A countryside house with legs is holding an umbrella to keep the acid rain out. A green lake can also be seen, a plastic duck floating within it. A storm cloud meanwhile is unhappy about it all and flashes a bolt of lightening from its mouth.
Certainly the scale is huge and this seems to be a theme of the Urban Morphogenesis festival. Russia is a country known for it’s large scale housing complexes. It means that there is a lot of wall space for artists wanting to make an impact. The previous festival in 2019 saw murals created in Odintsovo a town just outside of Moscow. There, over 60 murals were created, most over 20 floors high. For 2020 the festival needed to scale back for obvious reasons.
It’s all very abstract and surreal but the choice of the Russian city of Chelyabinsk was also important for the artist. A place known for its factories, ecology says Vitaly, is very bad there. “Due to the scale of the project, I thought it would be an opportunity to raise such a topic”. It’s a chance he took and the mural has an impact as a result.
Love for Nature is a mural created as part of the Urban Morphogenesis street art festival in Russia. Originally scheduled to take place across 4 cities, the pandemic forced it to only take place in Chelyabinsk for 2020. In total 11 murals were created in the city all by Russian artists. All photos in this article are courtesy of Vitaly Tsarenkov.
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