July 10, 2019 getLISBON 0Comment

Today we suggest you visit the urban art of Bairro Padre Cruz, the biggest social housing neighbourhood of the Iberian Peninsula.

Since 2009 that Lisbon has developed a strategy to promote urban art and to simultaneously preserve the heritage and prevent vandalism. This is of the responsibility of GAU – Urban Art Gallery of the Department of Cultural Heritage of the City Council.

In the last years, Lisbon has become one of the world capitals of this art form. It is one of the most sought cities by artists from all over the world that leave us countless and recognised works of art.

We’ve had the opportunity of telling you about the urban art gallery of the Quinta do Mocho, located in the municipality that neighbours Lisbon. This time we’re going to explore another open-air exhibition in Lisbon, the urban art of Bairro Padre Cruz.

Read also about the urban art of Chão do Loureiro car park!

We start with the cover picture of this post, an artwork by BIGOD that illustrates the coexistence of generations. To the artist, that’s part of living in a neighbourhood, just like here in Bairro Padre Cruz. In addition to that, it represents the two distinct zones of this territory: the new part of the neighbourhood represented by the young boy on the left, and the old part by the old woman on the right.

Bairro Padre Cruz

This neighbourhood is located in Carnide, one of the biggest parishes located in the north zone of Lisbon. It has more than 8 000 habitants and is the biggest city project of social housing of the Iberian Peninsula and one of the biggest of Europe.

Read more about Carnide in our article The Our Lady of Light Festivities and Its Surprising Patrimony.

The historic nucleus where you can find one of the Bandstands of Lisbon also deserves a visit.

"Old quarter"” – attached masonry houses. Urban Artwork by Mário Belém
“Old quarter”” – attached masonry houses. Urban Artwork by Mário Belém

Building housing for rural migrants when the city of Lisbon was in expansion, in the 1960s, was the beginning of the urbanisation of this area, which was occupied by old farms and farmlands.

Thus, what came to be the “old quarter”, constituted by tiny attached masonry houses. With time, these municipal houses have become degraded and many of them are in very poor condition. At the moment, they’re target of a project of demolition and rehousing of its inhabitants.

In the 1980/1990s, growth in Lisbon was predicted with new development plans that included the eradication of shanties in the city and the radical transformation of east Lisbon, since the city would be hosting the World Expo 1998.

In this context, Bairro Padre Cruz was one of the chosen places to build social housing. Thus, emerged the “new quarter” with buildings that housed families of completely different origins, that were also different to the residents of the “old quarter”.

“New quarter” – buildings with urban artwork
“New quarter” – buildings with urban artwork

This triggered conflicts among them and the following years were rough for this neighbourhood that, isolated from the rest of the city, was stuck in its problems.

Measures were needed to integrate the new population and to create better housing conditions for residents of the “old quarter”, as well as initiatives to combat isolation, improve public spaces, promote cohesion among the inhabitants…

The several events of urban art of Bairro Padre Cruz that were held here were for this very purpose.

Festivals of Urban Art of Bairro Padre Cruz

The first festivals occurred in 1996 and 1997. These artworks can be seen on the football field wall of the Football Team Os Unidos, on the “old quarter” side.

The two more significant festivals were held in 2016: the first was MURO Lx 2016 and was promoted by GAU; and the second, “Criar Mudança através de Arte Urbana” (creating change through urban art) was a project promoted by the cultural association Boutique da Cultura in collaboration with Crescer a Cores, an association of social solidarity.

Festival of Urban Art – MURO Lx 2016

In this festival, works of urban art were produced both inside and outside the neighbourhood.

At the same time there were photography exhibitions, a films showcase, an international conference, among other initiatives, such as shows, and street plays that directly involved the local community.

Both national and international artists were invited by the organisation of the festival and by GAU itself and there were even artists that joined the event voluntarily.

They produced more than 60 art pieces, being the majority of them on the sidewalls of the buildings of the “old quarter”. We can find works by The Empty Belly, Oze Arv, Nomen, J. Aracê, Mário Belém, among others.

Leonor Brilha’s artwork, which features river names. The biggest rivers represent arteries and the smaller ones blood vessels, just like the 38 streets named after Portuguese rivers on this side of Bairro Padre Cruz.
Leonor Brilha’s artwork, which features portuguese river names.

We highlight the heart by Leonor Brilha, which features river names. The biggest rivers represent arteries and the smaller ones blood vessels, just like the 38 streets named after Portuguese rivers on this side of Bairro Padre Cruz.

In the “new quarter” we have, for example, works by famous artists, such as Pariz One & Telmo e Miel, Mr. Dheo, Borondo, Styler…

When it comes to 3-dimensional artwork, we have PiG by Bordalo II and the installation art by Robert Panda from his project “Stupid –  Because All People Are”.

Installation art by Robert Panda. This installation art has been replaced once after it was vandalised. Instead of gold, it is now yellow and it has been adopted by the population as the neighbourhood’s mascot and named Nelson.
Installation art by Robert Panda.

This installation art has been replaced once after it was vandalised. Instead of gold, it is now yellow and it has been adopted by the population as the neighbourhood’s mascot and named Nelson.

Project “Criar Mudança através de Arte Urbana” 2016

This project resulted from the application of Boutique da Cultura and of Crescer a Cores to the programme BIP-ZIP that aims to promote partnerships and small local interventions to improve the “habitats”.

The local residents and partners were called to participate and contribute to this project that intends to open up the neighbourhood to the city, as well as to create new horizons and challenges to the residents themselves.

For the creation of the approximately 30 art pieces, not only artists who are particularly famous for street art were invited, but also artists who had never tried expressing their art on the sidewall of a building.

The majority of the artwork is in the “new quarter” and it features Portuguese artists, such as RAPS, Styler, Nomen, Smile, Observ, Skran, Nada, entre outros, as well as foreign artists, including Marcio Bahia, Utopia, Rocio Matosas…

Mural artwork by Utopia
Mural artwork by Utopia

Boutique da Cultura has guided tours both in Portuguese and English for those who want to admire and find out about the stories and the curious facts inherent in these works of art.

Go watch our video and don’t miss your chance of contemplating these artworks live before the “old quarter” is demolished!

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