Street Art and Eurovision. Street art - ultra cool, socially and politically astute. Eurovision - one big cheesy glitter ball. What has Europe ever done for us?
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What has Europe ever done for us? - Quite a lot actually
The great glittering ball of Eurovision is polar opposite to the trendy, edgy and subversive world of street art. However we thought the two could come together for a warm hug this weekend.
Saturday 22nd May is the highlight of the camp and glittering calendar, that is the Eurovision Song Contest.
Here at We Have Your Prints gallery we often sit down with friends, have food from some of the representing nations and plenty of drink to see us through. Let’s face it you do usually need plenty of alcohol to survive the struggling presenters, overblown sets, even more overblown performances and those over - excitable presenters who ‘call in’ to give us their scores and seize the chance to ‘big up 'their part.
If you don’t know what Eurovision is – It can be loosely described as a singing/performance competition featuring European nations and a few others. Each country has 3 minutes to out-daft each other with outlandish costumes, stage and a terrible song. All countries give a score in the form of a vote where the winner gets to host it the following year. The voting gives each nation the opportunity to vote for their neighbours and political allies (Yes you, Cyprus and Greece). All in all, Eurovision is a spectacular piece of televisual nonsense – sorely needed at this time too.
This year the contest is held in Rotterdam; who were supposed to host it in 2020 however that didn't happen thanks to Covid-19. To celebrate the event we thought we would capture the spirit of European friendship through some interesting Street Art and Urban Art that has caught our eye.
The first contest was held on 24th May 1956 as the brainchild of Marcel Bezencon of the European Broadcasting Union, in which just 7 nations participated. That year the winner was Switzerland; this year there are 39 European and not-so European countries due to take part, you can find out more about them at the official Eurovison 2021 website here and listen to them all on Spotify
We don’t have time here to look at all 39 countries and you probably don’t have time to read about them. So, we decided to focus on Street art and Urban art from the countries who have won the most times, and they are: Ireland - 7, Sweden - 6, Luxembourg – 5, France – 5, Netherlands – 5 and the UK – 5. Of course, we can’t forget the infamous Norway; who has had the most number of nil points - 4.
James Early is a leading European contemporary artist, we love his work. His hyper real art style is really effective in his homeless portrait collection, giving value and respect to people who often get ignored as we go about our daily lives. We love the use of bright colours to highlight the bruising under his subject's eye,very touching.
Looking expectantly forward to 2021 – This year Artscape returns to various locations throughout Sweden. Obviously it is a case of watch this space as the virus situation develops but some exciting work happening here.
We love the fox and hare conversation taking place on the side of this building near Munkfors in Sweden; this fabulous piece of by street art is by Annatomix.
LuxembourgNow we admit we know very little about street art and urban art in Luxembourg, but they do have some information about their Urban art scene in this Luxembourg City guide.
This art project, which adorns the walls of the sports hall between Boulevard Marcel Cahen and Rue Adam Roberti, was created by the artist Sader and Cycle 4 pupils. By getting children involved in this project, Sader wanted to help spruce up the neighbourhood, encourage children to be creative and pass on his knowledge of urban art to those who are interested.
France has always had a strong Street art and Urban art scene with the likes of Blek Le Rat, Miss Van, Invader, Miss Tic and Zevs paving the way from being considered vandals, to cultural icons with international recognition.
We wanted to share the culture trip.com has to say about Parisian street art.
“This 2km-long street in the 10th and 11th arrondissements is ripe for artistic exploration. Keep your eyes off the pavement and on the walls, and you’ll see classic elements of Parisian street art like Invader’s video game-inspired tilework and black-and-white portraits by Shepard Fairey. Close to the intersection with rue Oberkampf, another street on our list, you’ll find a recent work by Kashink, arguably Paris’ most notable female street artist working today. Her work has a strong feminist strain and has been said to echo that of Frida Kahlo.”
We love the vibrant colours and the strong message, but what do you think?
NetherlandsThe duo Telmo Miel - work collaboratively and interchangeably according to their Tumblr page, meeting at Art college in 2007 and working together ever since. We love their dramatic images, none more so than this swan and fox fighting for their lives.
The Home country of We Have Your Prints. It would be very easy to feature art by Banksy, Nick Walker or Stik. However we wanted show this image of Greta Thunberg that we visited as part of the low-key street art festival in Bristol which that took place whilst Upfest took a break.
The Greta mural by Jody Thomas stretches the entire height of the Tobacco Factory’s 15-metre tall building. Upfest – Europe’s largest Street Art & Graffiti Festival gets underway from 15th May 2021 where 75 walls will be painted in 75 days culminating in the Upfest Festival taking place on the Bank Holiday weekend 28th and 29th August in Bristol.
And what of our friends in Norway, ridiculed for getting the most number of Nil Points, but at least they keep trying. As to their street art scene Norway has some world renowned artists in the likes of Dolk and Martin Whatson. For many years Norway had a zero tolerance policy towards street art and graffiti that saw street artists punished with heavy fines. Forward to today and visitnorway.com celebrates their creativity, and we really love this piece by Smug in Stavanger.
So that was a quick whizz through some of the Street Art, Graffiti and Urban Art that caught our eye as we thought about our Eurovision cousins and what amazing work they do. It is great and encouraging that their exists a strong sense of collaboration amongst artists and that Europe has produced some amazing artists that have gone on to be internationally recognised as being cultural icons.
On Saturday night I am sure that we will be treated to some terrible music and bizarre performances however we will be watching it in the spirit of unity with some great food, having a beer and celebrating the absurdity of it all – roll on.
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