The world is a canvas

We love to walk a lot when we travel and it’s always a bonus to turn a corner and be faced with beautiful bold street art. Some call it graffiti and others see it as urban art or street art, but regardless of what you call it, the artworks often evoke emotions.

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Often seen in the seedy neighbourhoods, in some cities the artworks are in very busy, prominent city centre locations and laneways. Some are subtle and unobtrusive, you could easily walk past oblivious if you weren’t looking for them. We often stand and ponder, deciphering and interpreting the artist’s impression and just the sight of such vibrant creativity makes my eyes happy.

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The splash of colour often tells a story and brightens up a dull, lifeless alley way. Don’t forget to look up, some street art does not jump out and catch your attention, subtle arts are sometimes away from the street art scenes, up high in tourist areas making the search for them very rewarding. They say a picture paints a thousand words and when it is plastered on the side of a huge building those words clearly tell a story, a message we can all understand. Street art can transform an unsightly, boring grey concrete structure to a playful, creative place to decipher the artist’s interpretation.

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In recent years bold, bright, highly detailed art by local and international artists are constantly changing. Many alley ways have transformed into a thriving art scene, not only beautifying neighbourhoods, but creating outlets offering an insight into a city’s culture, history and current day issues through visual story telling.

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We love tracking down the deluge of iconic street art in fringe areas throughout our travels discovering playful, whimsical and emotion packed designs. There is sometimes a fine line between graffiti and street art but in many cities’ street art is no longer illegal graffiti and many now commission famous artists and those that are lessor known to create impressive murals and creative arts bringing an explosion of colour in their unique style.

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The emotion packed designs are something we can understand and ponder as the city takes on a new level and truly becomes a canvas. This style of art speaks in a number of ways. It can transform and empower people, bring people together and creates a better version of public space. Brides to be love incorporating street art, especially the details and perspective of neon graffiti murals, as a fabulous backdrop for their wedding photos. Street art is unique, vibrant and when commissioned is a great initiative to reduce the cost of graffiti clean ups.

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Street art is constantly changing, you can see it one day and it can be covered with an impression from another artist the next, whilst some remains around for years. If you are lucky you can often see an artist at work if you visit some of the commissioned outlets for youth and the arts in a city. Beyond paper and canvas street art can bridge cultural and language barriers and is fun to understand, perceive and comprehend.

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Where is your favourite street art? Have you seen any of the arts in this post, do you know where they are?

If you enjoyed this post you may want to check out some street art in Fremantle and in our own hometown, Perth.

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Extraordinary Chaos

What to see and where to stay in Basel

Basel is the entry point to Switzerland for many travellers, either coming from France or Germany or a quite popular first or final stop for a Rhine River cruise. After hearing another blogger label the city boring our expectations for Basel were not high. For us the end of our 4 day Avalon Rhine River cruise in Basel would be the first time we set foot on Swiss soil. Bordering on France’s Alsace region and Germany and being Switzerland’s third largest city, we decided to spend some time there and see for ourselves just what this cultural city has to offer. But after all the plush, quality comforts of a river cruise we wondered if the hotel would live up to the standards of the cruise we had just disembarked. We arrived at Novotel Basel City Hotel after a short taxi ride from the port and our check in was very friendly and efficient. The person at the front desk was joking with us as we were promptly given card and directions to our room. As we entered our Executive Room our concerns regarding comfort were dismissed. Although minimalist the room had a warm, welcoming feel.

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Basel03In addition to the very large and comfortable bed with high quality linen, flat screen TV, mini bar, Nespresso machine, etc we were provided slippers and a luxurious robe. This was a very spacious and contemporary room, almost brand new with a very quirky feature. The glass divider in the wall between the bathroom and bedroom was made of switchglass which changes from frosted to clear with the touch of a button.

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The bathroom itself was a good size and spotlessly clean with oversized doors to the bathroom and separate toilet. The bathroom featured a large shower with rain head and separate bathtub. The vanity was a good size with a variety of Fair Trade toiletries from Bolivia, Mauritius and Kenya.

After making ourselves at home we went downstairs to the GourmetBar for a relaxing coffee, served Swiss style with a shot glass of water, cubed white brown sugar and a cookie.

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At check in we were provided with a mobility tickets for free transport on the bus, tram or trains within Basel for the duration of our trip and after our coffee we ventured off to check out the city. The public transport runs with Swiss precision, is frequent and efficient making getting from the hotel into the city centre quick and comfortable.

Within 15 minutes we arrived in the city centre, lined with cobblestoned streets, inviting cafes, and one of the main landmarks dominates the skyline. The Münster cathedral with its prominent red sandstone, dual spired towers with the brightly coloured tiles, sits upon the highest point in the spacious Münsterplatz.

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Nearby we came across another beautiful building, this time in Markplatz. The 500 year old grand and imposing Basel Town Hall, a beautiful red building in the centre of the market centre.  One of Basel’s most attractive landmarks you can’t help but marvel at the glorious beauty. Painted with the Swiss coat of arms, imagery of Medieval Swiss warriors and adorned with assorted stained glass windows this is truly a sight to behold. The market area is filled with tourists and locals alike buying and sampling products from nearby France and Germany and local Swiss cheeses, breads, fruits and vegetables. The aromas of roasting chestnuts and colours of fruits and vegetable offers temptation at every turn.

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Another of the wonders that took my eye nearby was in the quiet streets of Old Town Basel. Wandering around we turned a corner to came across this massive mural depicting many Rock Legends such as P!nk, Bob Marley, Keith Richard, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Madonna and more. The design integrates the legendary Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, Billy Joel, Amy Winehouse, Freddie Mercury, Janis Joplin, David Bowie and Ozzie Osborne. See if you can recognize any others. Wow, this is such a contrast to some of the other areas of town, it is so brightly coloured and I am awe identifying all the legends.

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Basel is definitely spoiled for choice and far from boring. From the picturesque streets of the historic centre, the cosy places, to the magnificent buildings and of course how could we not mention those slabs of Swiss chocolate, full of fruits and nuts. Yes, we allowed ourselves to be enchanted by the charm of Basel, especially at Christmas.

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Basel was a great way to complete our wonderful river cruise and get ready for the final three weeks of our special #EuropeanChristmasDiscovery trip and we appreciate AccorHotel’s assistance in hosting our stay in Basel.

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We’d love to read your comments below. Have you been to Basel? Did you find it full of delight like we did?

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Fremantle Street Art

We love showcasing where we live and revel in being a tourist in our hometown. For us, there is nothing better than when we can do both for free. Today the streets were calling, so we headed down to the vibrant culture of Fremantle, to photograph some amazing street art.

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We love the vivid colours and the uniqueness of street art on some of the old buildings in Fremantle is nothing short of amazing when used as a canvas. Street art is often confused as graffiti, but street art is a way to express a notion and point of view, like other artworks. This is unlike graffiti which is just tags and non discript scribble. Fremantle Street art is actually effective in preventing or at least reducing graffiti and the costs associated with removing it. Discuss street art and you get a wide range of opinions from those strongly against it, to others openly advocating its ability to make a place unique.

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We had the honour of watching the famous Fremantle artist, Horatio T Birdbath while he was working on this intricately detailed mural. He’s been touching up the elaborate detail of his work on the back of Gino’s café in Fremantle for many years.

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We could never tire of wandering around these historic streets photographing the quaint and quirky street arts on the old, mostly deserted buildings. My favourite would have to be the massive mural on South Terrace and several passers-by clearly were as impressed with the details of Fremantle’s largest mural as we were. There were so many details in this quirky series that we easily spent an hour there.

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The power of art transported us to exotic places from across the globe. as our eyes were tricked in a trompe l’oeil style. A humongous still life painting that appears 3D came to life with the illusion of reality, deceiving our eyes and transforming this otherwise dull warehouse exterior to colourful vistas, all with incredible attention to detail.

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Almost every scene from China, France, Africa and India, has a little Westie dog, either sitting on a chair, hiding in a basket, hanging in the washing or sleeping on a rug, that I lost count how many ‘scenes’ he’s in. There are also meerkats, penguins, a cat, exotic birds, even an elephant.

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From the giant numbat, to the Alice in Wonderland wall, the secret entrance of the Monk or the huge mural at East West Designs, Fremantle’s street art simply blew us away.

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Whether public art is a passing fad or it will stand the test of time along with Aboriginal art and Michangelo to be persevered and be around to show future generations, time will tell. But urban street art is for now, an essential expression of our culture and a great reflection of our past and present. To be standing in King’s Square to see timeless architecture and bronze sculptures side by side with modern murals sanctioned for their artistic merit by City of Fremantle, is fabulous. There is an abundance of funky creativity in Fremantle and it is great to see aerosol art creating such a buzz.

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Certain pockets of Fremantle and the streets surrounding the iconic Woolstores, famous for its skate and urban art scene, are bursting at the seams with joyful colour bringing images to a wide audience. Visual art created in public spaces once was unsanctioned, but today gives artists a voice to express themselves through their weapon of choice, spraycans, artline pens or even a chisel. Urban street art was previously dominated by graffiti styles and is now inspired by pop cult, comics, feminine doll like figures and bold colourful works.

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Which one was your favourite street art or is there one we didn’t capture here?

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If you enjoyed this post you may want to check out some street art in other parts of the world and in our own hometown, Perth.

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