Although Mr. Q pretty much indulged me and was very patient about wandering around charming old wooden houses in Gamle Stavanger on our recent trip, he’d pretty much had enough of that after a couple of hours. That was when we headed into the Tourist Information center that was located right next to our ship and found a postcard about the Stavanger Street Art walking tour.
Before I go any further, let me give you Wikipedia’s definition of street art: Street art is visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues. The term gained popularity during the graffiti art boom of the early 1980’s and continues to be applied to subsequent incarnations.
Stavanger hosts a street art festival every year hosted by Nuart and is one of the world’s leading destinations for street art. I’ve always been a big fan of street art and I love the idea that Stavanger is embracing this art form. I had done a little reading about the street art in Stavanger before our trip, so I was pretty excited to realize that not only was there was a tour, it was conveniently starting in just a little over an hour!
We purchased tickets for the tour right there at the tourist info center (it was about $36 for two) and then headed back to the ship for a quick lunch. Then Mr. Q and I headed back to the TI to meet our tour guide. We were starting to wonder if we were in the right place because there were only two other people waiting, but our guide showed up and we realized the four of us were it. The other two people on the tour were a writer and a photographer from Portugal who were doing an article on the Stavanger street art scene for a magazine. A little later we were joined by two more ‘tour guide trainees’ who were learning from our guide, Michael (in the green jacket).
I think you can easily pick out the photographer from the magazine in that photo, right? She had a very nice camera!
Michael was very energetic and led us quickly from spot to spot while educating us about particular street artists as well as the various techniques they use such as stenciling.
Yep, basically the same kind of stenciling I do on furniture … well, sort of.
An artist named Jaune from Brussels did a series of these “working class heroes” pieces, and I just loved the humor in them …
as well as his use of actual infrastructure like the metal ring above or the 4 pipes coming out of the wall below.
As a former sanitation worker himself, Jaune is symbolically freeing them from their work. Amen to that Jaune!
I also thought these electrical boxes stenciled to look like buildings by the German artist Evol were pretty cool.
They were so realistic looking, and you know how I love anything miniature!
This next piece by Norwegian artist Martin Whatson was another of my favorites.
The black and white character is stenciled first, and then the colorful ‘tags’ are added after. I love his use of vibrant colors to contrast with the black and white, don’t you?
Speaking of color, Bortusk Leer paints these brightly hued ‘happy monsters’.
Our guide explained that Bortusk’s goal is to cheer people up, as evidenced by his motto “Cheer up you bastards”. Ha!
This next artist likes to incorporate surrounding foliage. I don’t think I would have noticed this piece if our guide hadn’t pointed it out.
However, this next piece caught my eye from a block away.
I was surprised that our guide wasn’t leading us over to this one. I could tell that there was something a little bit different about it, so I kind of veered off from the group to take a closer look.
The writer from Portugal followed me over and started to tell me that this piece was done by a Portuguese artist named Vhils. He uses a ‘hammer drill’ to remove the outer layers of the wall revealing the brick behind. According to his website, by “applying his original methods of creative destruction, Vhils digs into the surface layers of our material culture like a contemporary urban archaeologist, exposing what lies beyond the superficiality of things, restoring meaning and beauty to the discarded dimensions buried beneath.” That’s a kinda fabulous concept, right?
Soon Mr. Q and the magazine photographer had left our guide and wandered over to look at this piece too.
Our guide finally realized he’d lost his group and came over to accuse us of ‘eating dessert first’. As one of the most impressive street art pieces on the tour, he’d been saving this one for last. Ooops! I messed up his plan. I could tell that the pair from the Portuguese magazine were happy to realize that our guide wasn’t totally dissing their favorite artist!
Once our guide had us back under his wing, we checked out a couple more pieces and our tour was brought to an end. We had just enough time to make our way back to the ship and hop on board before sailing to our next port, Flåm.
Be sure to check back next Wednesday because Flåm was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!