From September 25th to October 25th, 2015, there is a festival across Breda focused around graphic design and digital art. Graphic Design Festival Breda is meant for contemporary creatives to allow one to view the world differently with a month of public interventions, exhibitions, talks, tours, and workshops in the city centre. This festival is offered every two years, and this is the fifth year that it has taken place.
This past weekend, I signed up for a tour of some of the street art in the city centre. I still have yet to see all of the outdoor murals and pop up art exhibitions, so stay tuned for more photos. As part of the festival, many new murals have been added in the centre from international artists around the world. Several of these works shown above are from artists in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, including the same one who designed the famous Markthal in Rotterdam.
I learned a lot about these murals, some of which I had already seen before, but now I have a deeper perspective on each one. For example, in the Mols Parking lot, this area has thousands of people buried below the concrete from the terror of the black plague in 1353. Much later on, a large circus was hosted here, with many exotic animals. This area is home to at least eight large scale murals. One of the murals (the one with the mice) focuses on a child’s perspective of the black death. Another has uses the subject of a circus theme to further develop a sense of place, and add to Breda’s unique history.
The orange one that features the words “Any day, Queens day” is a love letter from an American artist to the city of Breda. The smaller words across the wall are examples of why this artist loves this country, and shares a sense of pride for women, especially, whom at the time this mural was made, the Queen of The Netherlands. At present, King Williem-Alexander is the monarchical figurehead. There was originally another wall with more words, but the shop expanded a few years and had to remove a piece of the artwork.
There is another mural by an American artist, Mike Perry, in the same alleyway who uses a poem by Mike Nicolas as inspiration. The poem is a palindrome, so the mural can be read from left from right, or right to left, and have a different meaning. Very neat!
All of these murals that are outdoors and around the city centre are a part of the growing ‘Blind Walls Gallery’. From what I have learned, this gallery is building from the idea that Breda once had fortifying city walls, now fallen of course, and utilizes presently blank wall space to build up a new wall, new culture, and to bring new life to the city. I must also tell you about the Three Seconds Gallery, which is housed in an underground parking lot. In the entrance/exit of the lot, there are artworks lined up along the walls on both sides. Each individual piece of art has a motion sensor. As cars enter or exit, which in theory takes about three seconds, the artwork as a whole responds to the car’s movements. So innovative!
One of my personal favourites of the tour was enjoying the Open Submissions Gallery at Stadsgalerij, a pop up gallery for the festival. The title of this gallery is What Do You Do? All of the works featured here were sent in from artists and every day people around the world anonymously, and then selected to be put on display. The beauty of this, is that simply anyone, whether professional or not, could have their artwork featured here. The theme of the works was “What does a graphic designer do?”
One last neat thing I learned from this tour, that a fountain in Valkenberg Park I pass by often on my way to university has a special purpose. There are many famous people who have originated from Breda, and it is said that if one drinks from this fountain, they are destined to be famous. It is another way of looking at the saying, “There is something in the water.” I thought this was a neat tidbit of information that I otherwise would have not known.
For anyone currently reading this, I would highly recommend checking out at least one of the many events hosted by the Graphic Design Festival Breda. The tour I took is offered on Fridays and Sundays until the end of the festival and only cost five euros; which is very inexpensive considering the amount of information and the excellent experience I took away from this.
From an academic perspective, I am brainstorming ideas for my upcoming thesis project. I am thinking about using examples of street art to argue if this type of community can develop a destination. I’m still working on the final research topic, and if you, dear readers, have any insight, ideas on books to read, etc, please comment below.