Friday, December 9, 2016

195. The colours of Athens - Part 1

Flying into Athens three weeks ago I was amazed by the “whiteness” of the city. From above, it was an ocean of white buildings and roofs winding its way between the brown hills to the shores of the azure Mediterranean.

Once down at street level, however, it is a very different story. This is a city of colourful energy – a landscape that includes narrow streets planted with thousands of shady fruit-laden orange trees, apartment balconies with blue and green sun shades and overhanging with lush planter boxes. 

 ... unfortunately the oranges are uneatable ...

There are numerous municipal parks that are green oasis during the hot summer months, kiosks on very street selling newspapers or take-away food, pavement cafes aplenty and the colourful and adorably delicious treats in the patisseries on just about every corner ...  

And then there is the urban art everywhere 
 - and I mean everywhere    

Some of the artwork has been made possible though various creative projects set up by the Athens Municipality (especially before the Olympic Games of 2004 and during the annual Little Paris festivities ), and has involved some well-known local street artists, many of whom are from the Athens School of Fine Arts ( which runs a programme of street art studies, by the way ).

In my first few days here wandering the streets, I was not impressed with the amount of raw graffiti that "spoiled" so many buildings - mind you, not any structures of historical significance have been targeted. But then discovering larger and more colourful artworks, I became more and more fascinated with this rebellious, spontaneous and ( more often than not ) protest-driven street art - “social comments” on walls I guess you could call it.
The economic crisis and the on-going dissatisfaction with the government and the establishment is the fuel that has made much of Athens’ street art grow and evolve.

Going about graffiti hunting has been one of my favourite activities here in Athens, not only because I am interested in the art, but also because, I reckon you can learn a lot about the mood of a city by looking at its urban art. I still have a few more areas to explore – not always the most salubrious of districts, with their mazes of narrow alley-ways lined with crumbling and often boarded-up 19th and 20th Century buildings ( now the homes to many of Greece’s less-fortunates ) - this project is sort of in tune with exploring the ancient Athens. More to come

But next post I’ll take you to a lesser known Athens necropolis …