Murals with memories of the city fight urban degradation in Olhão [with photos]

Memories of other times spread across the walls of the buildings and leave no one indifferent. For some, seeing the murals […]

Memories of other times spread across the walls of the buildings and leave no one indifferent. For some, seeing the murals being painted in Largo and Rua da Fábrica Velha, on the edge of Bairro do Levante, in Olhão, is a real return to the past or even to moments they once lived. For others, like the many tourists that the city welcomes these days, it is an opportunity to get to know Olhão in the past, through urban art, with the seal of Algarve artists.

Os graffiti writers Peter "Mistik", "Gnosis" and "Kaset", from Sator Artistic Associationi, and "Dgiphi", his guest, have been transforming the area surrounding the Fábrica Velha square for weeks, a work commissioned by the City Council of Olhão.

The square itself was recently the target of an intervention, within the scope of the project «Path of Legends», which included the creation of a pedestrian area and the placement of a statue alluding to the legend of Marim.

But even nearby, buildings that had once housed factories were getting more and more run down. «The main objective of this project is to beautify the area adjacent to the Caminho das Lendas. The creation of these murals was the way we found to qualify this area until now degraded», he explained to Sul Informação António Pina, mayor of Olhão.

With this intention in mind, the municipality of Olhano went looking for a partner, which it found in the Satori association. “We signed a protocol with the association, which has a lot of experience in this area, and obtained the agreement of the building owners. At the same time, we searched for the memories of the city, the canning industry and fishing», said António Pina.

Once the conditions had been created, the artists arrived with spray cans, rollers and lots of paint, to put on the walls the memories that are stored in photos from the Municipal Archive of Olhão. This leads to these graffiti being authentic historical documents.

«One day an elderly woman came here and said: look, that's me! There was another lady who also came to me asking to take a photo with her, because her mother is here and she has the original photo at home», she said. Peter "Mistik", pointing to the mural he is still working on, together with Gnosis, but which already occupies almost the entire west-facing façade of the former Conserveira do Sul factory.

In this painting, an image of life in the factory is represented, with women and men at work. In others, they are fishing boats with sails in the wind, fishermen tending their nets or the hustle and bustle of a street in the then industrial zone of Olhão.

Images that, for many inhabitants of Olhão, particularly from this oldest part of the city, are familiar. Maybe that's why it revealed the writer Algarve, the reaction of the population has been the best.

«This is a source of pride for Olhão. Most people don't look at this as graffiti, they say it's a work of art. I try to explain, but for people graffiti is something else», said the artist who, like Gnosis and Kaset, is from Quarteira.

There are also many passersby who stop to appreciate the work of the four artists and take the opportunity to photograph.

The mural that occupies the façade of another building, which depicts sloops with sails thrown into the sea, is already completed. This graffiti was painted by “Dgiphi”, a writer from Albufeira who was invited by Satori to join the project.

Like “Mistik”, who has been “in the cans” for 13 years, "Dgiphi" he already dedicates himself practically exclusively to the activity of urban artist, doing works as he is developing in Olhão, but also others, «such as restaurants, bars and rooms».

«Although I paint things like that, clearly and legally, I also like to paint “outside”. That's what we like too», he confessed.

«They gave me a set of photographs and I chose the ones I liked the most, to paint them here. But that doesn't mean they're a decal. Some things I add and also play with colors and shadows. We have to put a bit of us, otherwise it was an authentic photocopy and it wasn't funny», said “Dgiphi”.

The four writers they still have some work ahead of them and should only finish the murals “in September”, according to “Mistik”. Afterwards, everything indicates that new challenges may be followed in Olhão.

This is, according to António Pina, «a first experience», which, «from the assessment we can already make, is being quite positive». “We think we can repeat it in other areas of the parish [of Olhão]. This is a way of transforming degraded houses and spaces into urban art, always appealing to our memory», said the mayor of Olhão.

And the example of the Chamber may even be followed by private individuals. "We know that the Ferreira family, owner of Conserveira do Sul, who owns the Fábrica Velha building, intends to pay for the painting with murals on the other façades," said the mayor from Olhano.


Photos: Hugo Rodrigues|Sul Informação