People like Banksy began the trend in the nineties that made graffiti become not just acceptable but also celebrated, to the point that now certain daubs on a wall help to push up, and not down, the value of property in the area. Barcelona’s old industrial quarter of Poblenou has undergone the now familiar transformation from run-down backwater to thriving neighbourhood, where the traditional and the hip jostle side by side and the graffiti on its walls reflects this.
One day, walking along carrer Pallars, I caught the unmistakable clipped vowels of two Londoners as they calmly sprayed their vision on a long stretch of wall. I’d noticed this street corner because pretty much every month the elaborate art on it gets renewed.
The guys I was talking to, fellow runaways from the Big Smoke, explained that this long corner wall is well known among graffiti artists who take turns to leave their temporary mark on a section of it every few weeks. The result is a constantly changing riot of colour and ideas on this junction of carrer Pallars and carrer Ciutat de Granada, which, adorned with an old brick factory chimney, stands out as a living example of the varied stages in the history of this area.
Before I said goodbye to the guys, I couldn’t resist asking if there was ever any problem from the police or the local council, the answer was swift: “No mate, never, this is the legal wall”.