The world's walls are covered in graffiti and art. Here's where to see the best, and most interesting, of the lot
If you happen to look at Beco do Batman on Google Maps, it will look no different to the hundreds of winding alley's that surround São Paulo's blocks. However, this 100 metre long alleyway is covered from top to bottom in colourful, abstract, psychedelic and obscure street art. Batman's Alley could be seen more as an open-air art gallery rather than a short cut between blocks.
Much of the art produced is by those associated with one of São Paulo’s many urban intervention schemes, but the Beco do Batman also attracts sprayers and stencilers from all over the world. With its layers upon layers of paint, Beco do Batman is constantly changing and will surprise you every time you take a stroll between its vibrant walls.
A Love Letter for You
For a feel-good afternoon, hop on the Market-Frankford Elevated line in Philadelphia and keep your eyes fixed on the passing walls. Steve Powers' Love Letter for You project is spread across 50 walls on a 20 block stretch of Market Street. Carefully painted declarations of love and affection – See me how I see you, BEAUTIFUL – stand out in brightly coloured pictures and words.
The Love Letters were originally written for one, with the intention of meaning something to everyone. On Valentine's Day, couples can take a trip on the Love Train.
Go to aloveletterforyou.com for advice on how best to see the murals.
See no Evil
Better known as the home of Banksy, Bristol has recently hosted the international art project, See no Evil. The project, which was completed over three days at the end of August, aimed to celebrate Bristol's urban art and music scene. Nelson Street, in the heart of the south-west city, is now home to some of the world's largest scale paintings.
The event was dubbed as “Europe's most ambitious permanent art project” – multi-storey buildings have been covered in colour by top graffiti artists from all over the world.
Some of Banksy's most famous pieces can be found on Bristol's streets, Well Hung can be seen when shopping on Park Street, while The Sniper hides above a shop on Upper Maudlin Street.
A full Banksy walking tour can be found here: Bristol Banksy Tour.
Berlin's East Side Gallery on the Berlin Wall is probably the city's most famous area of street art. This 1.3km stretch of the wall was let loose to street artists when it was torn down in 1989.
This section is currently under renovation, with famous murals being retouched and scrawls of 'I woz ere' being covered. Don't forget to look on the other side of the remains of the wall too.
The walls all around the city are also covered in art, from professional to amateur and political to pretty. There are whole houses covered in brightly coloured, cartoon-like paintings and political stencils can be found dotted around every corner.
The city has been described as “the graffiti Mecca of the urban art world.”
Morro da Providencia
The 'Women are Heroes' project in Rio shows the faces of women emblazoned across one of Brazil's most dangerous shanty towns. The images of dark eyes and tired faces are pasted on the front of houses in the favela. The impressive size of the images ensures that the women's watchful presence is felt in the street.
Photographer JR has also taken the project, which aims to raise awareness of the hardships women face across the globe, to Sudan, Sierra Leone and Kenya, as well as a host of other cities and countries yet to be under the watchful eye of women scorned.
West Bank Wall
Along a wall that functions as a cultural as well as physical barrier, art speaks louder than concrete. Banksy's project, Santa's Ghetto, saw several famous artists cover the blank walls in murals – the girl frisking a soldier being the most memorable.
A series of portraits, called Face2Face, line a part of the wall, where portraits of Israelis and Palestinians, who do the same jobs as each other, are posted up side by side on the wall. Silhouetted images of shepherds and animals can be found along the wall, as well as insects pushing over dominoes and political slogans.
Phrases of protest such as 'This wall will fall', 'to exist is to resist' and 'love each other' also colour much of the barrier. The wall is covered in creativity and beauty – the pictures, paintings and murals that are on show all have one meaning: 'build bridges not walls'.
London street art tends to be loud and crude, but these little gems are worth looking for. Pablo Delgado’s miniature street scenes live lives by our ankles on London's pavements. From families camping to prostitutes sprawling their legs, tiny images have big personalities down on the ground.
Look out for shadows painted across the pavement – they'll lead you to the bigger picture. Delgado's images can mostly by found around Brick Lane, Hackney Road and Arnold Circus.
London's East End is also home to many Stik Men, while the brightly coloured Invader has indeed, invaded London's streets as well as most cities around the world. Realistic scenes, black and white animals and installations of mushrooms and gremlin-like creatures also live on London's vibrant walls.
There is no one place in the Big Apple where street art is better or more intriguing than in any other part of the city. Walk along any street and you'll come across pixelated water taps, whole buildings covered in political images and art designed to cross social bridges – place your hand here, have a stranger place theirs here. Remove when no longer strangers.
For the urban explorers out there, the Underbelly Project is hidden in an abandoned metro station deep underground. The location of the apocalyptic art has not been revealed by artists or journalists, but promises to be a place worthy of stumbling across.
Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for colourful portraits, adapted Walk, Don't Walk signs, and over 100 diary entries painted around the city.
The Little People project (abandoning little people on the streets since 2006), can be found in cities across the world. Little, remodelled train set characters are left on the street in certain places, in certain situations, for only the eagle-eyed to spot.
The scenes are said to reflect the loneliness and melancholy of living in a big city, almost being lost and overwhelmed. However, scenes such as The Last Resort, where a couple in swim-where sit on a tennis ball (with a plastic palm tree attached) in the middle of a puddle, will always bring smiles to people's faces.
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