Whether you love street art (like me) or loathe graffiti, you can’t have failed to notice the recent surge in colourful creations adorning the concrete jungle walls of cities around the globe.
Big name artists like Banksy, Roa, Kobra, Vhils and Phlegm have been leaving their marks on the walls of obvious cities like London, New York and Barcelona for years. Recently other street art hot spots have started popping up, including Colombia’s capital Bogotá, São Paulo in Brazil, Berlin and Turkey’s Istanbul. In case you’re wondering where else is a street art haven, check out Huffington Post‘s 26 best places for street art.
A city that’s missing from the list however, is the Norwegian capital, Oslo. Named one of the world’s most expensive countries, Norway is perhaps more famous for its Vikings and maritime activity than it is for street art.
But when I visited the city for a few days in January last year as part of my 12 countries in 12 months mission, I found some of the most impressive pieces I’ve ever seen, including the monkey by Norwegian artist DotDotDot:
Oslo is not one of those places where you can find graffiti at every corner (like Brussels, where you can do organised street art walking tours finished off by a nice hot chocolate-covered waffle). But with my street art sniffing nose on, I hounded out/stumbled upon some incredible murals, like this one by Phlegm:
The city’s street art scene is eclectic to say the least. But unlike London’s biggest street art gallery, aka Shoreditch, it’s spread across various neighbourhoods. The Grunerlokka area is an oasis for street art, especially the area delimited by Hausmann’s Gate, Brenneeiveien, Nordre Gate and Nedre Gate.
The area, filled with old, unused industrial buildings has been transformed by local art students. When I visited last year it was under about 15in of snow, so a lot of the area was inaccessible. But I ventured as far as I dared in my non-waterproof boots, snapping these pictures on my travels:
If you’re looking for spontaneous graffiti and old style lettering, head down to the Hausmania area. Otherwise, if you want something a little more on the “figurative side”, take a stroll down the other streets of the block to find classics by internationally renowned artists like Pez (one of my favourites from Barcelona), Alice Pasquini and C215:
Next, head on over to the Oslo Harbour (the Rådhusplassen district) to see some work by Norwegian stencil artist Martin Whatson. He’s not only a local street art superstar, but also one of the fastest growing names in the international street art scene, so it would be a crime to miss his colourful pieces.
Though it’s not London or New York, Oslo is not a grey, graffiti-barren city. Norwegian’s capital is a city crying out with colour, a city with walls that have a lot to say. It’s up to you to decide if you want to listen to its stories.