Wednesday 12 March 2014

The Murals of Orgosolo

The murals of Orgosolo, Sardinia
Right in the middle of Sardinia, in the wild, mountainous area of Barbagia, historically known for bandits, kidnapping and blood feuds and still mostly undiscovered by foreign tourists is a hidden gem.

Hundreds of beautifully painted murals adorn just about every building in the town of Orgosolo, but these aren't just scribblings or random graffiti. These are expressions of social discontent, images of local life and traditions and messages of peace, equality and freedom.

Art, graffiti or politics?
The mural culture in Orgosolo, a town of just 5,000 inhabitants began during the Italian recession of the late 1960's, a time of strikes, inflation, unemployment and social unrest. The first was painted in 1969 by Dionisio, a visiting Milanese theatre troupe. They wanted to publicly question Sardinia's role in Italian politics and culture. A local teacher, Francesco del Casino liked the idea so much that he then encouraged his students to contribute their "two cents" and express themselves through murals, as a way of making them more interested in the problems of unemployment, illiteracy and freedom from oppression. The phenomenon has snowballed from there, with more experienced artists taking it upon themselves to adorn the town's walls with increasingly intricate, colourful and meaningful artworks.
Sardinia's mural culture
Although originally the murals portrayed only local issues, the themes now include more international themes and cover everything from the troubles in the Middle East to Tiananmen Square, 9/11 to women's rights. When you consider just how isolated from the outside world the town was until recently, its incredible to see such an assortment of international issues.

Thankfully, now that the paintings have become known abroad, they have been elevated from mere graffiti to cultural heritage status, with the Sardinian government allocating funds in 2000 for their preservation and restoration. There are many mural workshops run locally as well, promising to keep the Orgosolo mural tradition alive for generations to come.

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The murals are well worth a visit, and a day trip from your base at any one of our Sardinian villas is well worth while

And if you would like to see more of the murals online, why not pop over to our Facebook page where you'll find an entire album of pictures

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