It was the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall at the weekend. Berlin is a paradise for street art lovers and it all started with the wall, originally on the west side as nobody on the east side could get close enough to paint it. The wall was a symbol of political, economic and social division during the Cold War, so it was inevitable that it would become the canvas on which citizens artistically vented their frustrations and opinions.
French artist Thierry Noir is credited as being the first person to start painting the wall in 1984 as a form of protest. He was frequently intimidated by the East German border guards, so he learned to paint fast in simple fluid lines. Other Bohemian artists joined him and soon the western side was full of art. When the wall came down in November 1989 it was the start of something really special. The people of East Berlin finally got their chance to express themselves on the remains of the wall too.
The East Side Gallery was established in 1990, it’s not a traditional art gallery but more an open air memorial to freedom. It’s a 1.3 km stretch of the Berlin Wall that consists of 105 paintings by artists from all over the world. The paintings document a time of change and hope for the future, and have been both controversial and inspiring over the years. In true Berlin tradition, the anniversary celebration was spectacularly creative in a physical and symbolic way.
Seeing these events on the news has inspired me to go visit Berlin again. Payday isn’t until the end of the month so I just applied for instant cash, and have been approved. Berlin, here I come!