Humans have always left a message through artwork since our existence. Art evolved into many forms through time, hence providing a visual source of history. The concept of art is quite complex and we’ll leave that to the philosophers, however, what we know is that most artwork is there to send a message. And this message can take many forms: controversial, political, or hopeful and allowing connection with the locals and their culture and history. Here we have listed some of our locals’ favorite pieces that carry meaningful messages.
A Megaphone for Migrants and Messages, Brussels
Pasionaria is literally a megaphone for people to go up and yell their happiness or frustrations through. Installed close to the Midi train station, the artist Emilio Lopez-Menchero dedicated this piece to all migrants. Indeed, the location is key since it is the best visual example of the mixture of the multicultural environment in Brussels. Our local Renata likes to go up to shout some thought at the passers-by.
Mural With a Message, Rijeka
Explorare Necesse Est is a beautiful mural pictured by our Rijeka local Nikolina. Its creator is Sebas Velasco who was invited from Spain to bring art out from museums into public spaces. Indeed, it was a local that the artist met in the city, while he was trying to grasp the city’s vibe, that inspired this artwork. Thereby the mural perfectly represents the city and its history and celebrates Rijeka’s industrial heritage: “keep moving, keep learning, and never stop exploring”. A great message in line with our philosophy!
Homelessness Sculpture, Manchester
The Homeless Jesus is the work of Timothy Schmaltz, a Canadian artist. It’s part of a series of thought-provoking artworks. The sculpture challenges the passers-by to reflect on the topic of sleeping rough which is a particularly prominent phenomenon in Manchester. An especially powerful message, even for the non-religious out there!
Earth Without Art, Tirana
Our local Ardita spotted many colorful Painted Electric Cabins in Tirana. It’s the result of a local initiative with the goal of turning something old and boring into something meaningful and cheerful. This one is our favorite, in particular for its lovely message “Earth without art is just eh”. A perfect quote to express the aim of the local initiative together with sending a positive message about art.
A symbol Against Fascism, Glasgow
This unusual statue stands with its outstretched arms along the Clyde in Glasgow. The Pasionaria represents Dolores Ibarruri, a Spanish female heroine who fought against fascism in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. “The association between Spain and Scotland makes this sculpture worth noticing,” our local Helene says. In fact, this is a rare memorial to a group of 2000 volunteers who left Britain to join the international brigades in Spain (500 of them died, including 65 from Glasgow). The quote on the base is Dolores’ motto: “Better die on your feet than live forever on our knees”, a positive slogan of resistance against people’s struggles.
Soviet Mosaic, Chișinău
This Soviet Mosaic is our local Nicolai’s favorite amongst the many which can be found all over the buildings in Chișinău. This kind of mosaics depicted communist achievements and everyday “heroes” of the country. Generally, these hero figures served the purpose of constructing a new and progressive communist society. Several years ago, the Civil Society protested against covering the mosaics in the center with another advertisement which is now visible again to the locals and visitors.
One Step to Change Your Mind, Geneva
Oui-Non Sculpture is a public artwork of the Swiss Markus Raetz which comes to life through movement and perspective. Our local Juliette recommends keeping your head up while in Geneva or you’ll miss it as it stands 10 meters above the ground. Walking from one side to the other and you’ll see the braids of golden iron coming to life as you read “oui” (=yes) changing into “non” (=no). So, which side will you choose: Oui or Non?
A Local Heart, Copenhagen
Nørrebros Hjerte is a sculpture of a heart engraved with the words “We want to live together” in many languages. After taking a closer look you’ll notice that the pieces of metal making up the heart are actually parts of weapons. A beautiful way to express the desire to live together in peace and respect. Furthermore, according to our Copenhagen local Cindy, all the weapons have been either confiscated or submitted voluntarily to the Nørrebro police. The fact that the artist, Bjørn Nørgaard, was also born in Nørrebro makes this sculpture even more special!
The Network of Peace, Hamburg
The Cross of Nails – spotted by our Hamburg local Inga in St. Katharinen – stands for understanding between nations as a reconciliation after the war. It consists of three nails from the ruins of the bombed Cathedral of Coventry which was destroyed by the German airforce. Similarly, many small sculptures of crosses were made from those same ruins and sent around the world. In total, it makes for 330 different churches creating a network of peace after WW2.
Layers of History, Belgrade
Our local Vladimir is a historian and shared The Artisan Sculpture, a well-hidden spot, with us. Placed on a 1930’s building in Belgrade, together with other statues, it represents an artisan with his apprentice. Indeed, artisans were an important part of the city economy and the building’s original use was to be an Artisans Home. Above this, there’s a statue with two pigeons which represents the origin of the name of this street. For a century before this building, this was the place of the “At Two White Pigeons” inn. In summary, it’s a great spot for history lovers or just to reflect on the past by looking at these pice of art and learning their stories.
Words Connect us All, Montreal
Our Montreal local Dasilva was impressed by the Source Sculpture, a large statue representing a human torso. If you step inside you can see the lines taking the shape of words from different languages. This is the work of the Catalan artist Jaume Plensa for the 375th anniversary of the city’s foundation. It sends the positive message that despite the difference in languages we are all one. Besides, it also perfectly represents the city’s history by celebrating the importance of the water, particularly important for the growth of Montreal. Thanks to communication, trade, and immigration the city is now constantly renewing itself with creativity.
80 Names of Generosity, Vilnius
Our local Radvile has spotted The apple sculpture, which is dedicated to kindness and generosity. When in Vilnius, take a step closer and you’ll notice 80 family names engraved on the apple. Those are the names of several Lithuanians dating back to the XVI century as well as some more contemporary ones. What they all have in common is their engagement with charity and social work. Therefore artist R. Kvintas dedicated this sculpture to honor all the kindhearted people which make Vilnius special.
Street Art With a Message, Rotterdam
Many of us may be familiar with this green strip populated with abstract figures in Rotterdam. Make it Happen is indeed a gathering point for people to take a break from their daily routine and climb up the steps of the mural. Our local Maria explains to us the meaning behind the motto “Make it Happen”. In short, the artist Daan Botlek created the mural using the city’s motto to inspire artists and entrepreneurs. The message here is to express themselves. It very well represents the city’s mentality! Rotterdam is full of hardworking people who overcome the challenges in a creative manner: people that make things happen.
We hope this selection of spots made you hungry for art and inspire you to dig a little deeper learning the story of artwork you may come across in your city or other cities.
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