Totally Off The Wall! Warsaw artist transforms ENTIRE village square in Spain
A Warsaw street artist has added to her growing international portfolio by producing arguably her most stunning work to date.
Taking large format art to a new level, the artist known as NeSpoon has transformed an entire village square by covering its walls with the intricate lace patterns that have become her trademark.
Despite a modest population of just over 2,000, the northern Spanish village of Belorado has long been seen as a cultural hotbed, with its setting on the Camino de Santiago trail ensuring no shortage of visitors. Now, passing travellers have one giant reason to linger longer thanks to the efforts of one of Poland’s premier urban artists.
“My involvement came about when I was invited by an independent cultural organization called StARTer Proyectos Culturales,” NeSpoon tells TFN, “and as far as I know, it took them about two years to implement this project from start to finish.”
“From the beginning,” she continues, “they wanted me to be a part of it, though only asked me for concept sketches around half a year ago when their work was already advanced and the permits and funding secured.”
Handed eight buildings as her canvas, NeSpoon’s work was centred around Plaza de San Nicolás, a small square where the women of Belorado have for generations gathered to play bolo beliforano, a form of bowling practised only by females. This tradition was to form the gravitational point of a project that sought to celebrate the presence of women in public spaces.
For NeSpoon, keeping her work relevant to the community was a priority, with the artist immersing herself in local customs so as to reflect them in her art.
“Whenever I’m abroad,” she says, “I always try to use local patterns in my murals. Finding these means engaging the community to learn what kind of lace patterns are characteristic of the region.”
“By doing this in Belorado,” she adds, “I discovered that many of the designs were developed by nuns from a monastery that once existed nearby, and from these I selected one pattern that I loved the most – if it hadn’t been for the wonderful women of Belorado giving me their time, my work wouldn’t have ended up looking like it did.”
The hospitality was to prove a defining memory. “Everyday,” recalls NeSpoon, “older women would come up to me as I was working, chatting about the project and their memories of the place. They’d bring me fruits and sweets and it became one of those times when I felt like I was doing something genuinely important for the local people.”
Not all the surprises proved quite so pleasant. Whilst the rest of Europe sweltered, Belorado shivered to unseasonably low temperatures. “You don’t expect Spain to be 12 degrees in August,” says NeSpoon, “so all I took with me were shorts and a few t-shirts. With most of Europe struggling with a heatwave, the weather was the most unwelcome surprise of all.”
Altogether more well-received was her cooperation with Regue Fernández. With NeSpoon handling the lace aspect of the work, it was Fernández who was charged with adding historic sepia images of women playing bolo beliforano to the walls.
“This was my first collaboration with another artist in years,” she says, “and to be honest that’s because I tend to prefer to work alone – but this time around, it was a real pleasure to work with Regue. He was the co-author of the project (together with Estela Rojo), and speaking with him allowed me to better understand the whole nature of it all – of course, it helped that he’s also a wonderful artist and a charming man!”
Completed two weeks ago, the Belorado project has rapidly gained wider exposure, thanks in large to articles published by My Modern Met and Brooklyn Street Art. Yet even without these plaudits, NeSpoon, you get the idea, is happy so long as the people she has left behind appreciate her work.
“I’ve always felt that lace brings good energy,” she says, “and I hope that it brings joy to the people of Belorado. Additionally, while street art is usually considered as an artform for young people in big cities, I’m hopeful that this latest work demonstrates that it doesn’t have to exclude seniors.”