Fusing Arabic calligraphy with graffiti, ‘Calligraffiti’ artist paints colourful, swirling messages of hope and peace across 50 buildings in a district of Cairo that can only be fully seen from a nearby mountain.
Colourful Cairo ‘Calligraffiti’ contains cryptic clue
French-Tunisian artist eL Seed blends the historic art of Arabic calligraphy with graffti to portray messages of beauty, poetry and peace across all continents. This is the story of the artist and TED Fellow’s most ambitious project to date: a mural painted across 50 buildings in Manshiyat Naser, a district of Cairo, Egypt, that can only be fully appreciated in all its glory from a point on nearby mountainside.
The entire work is only visible from a point on the nearby Mokattam Mountain
On the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, nestles the community of Manshiyat Naser, famous locally for providing informal garbage and recycling services for rest of the city, but equally as infamous for the mess and smell that come with that role.
‘Calligraffiti’ artist eL Seed worked with locals to develop an incredible mural spanning 50 buildings, aiming to change perceptions and raise awareness about the community.
Accustomed to being marginalised and belittled, the residents are incredibly industrious, sorting out garbage from recyclables by district within the community, literally turning Cairo’s trash into lucrative treasure.
The mural blends aspects of Arabic calligraphy with contemporary graffiti, all while highlighting the architecture of the area. The entire work is only visible from a point on the nearby Mokattam Mountain.
When viewed as a whole, the piece spells out the words of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a Coptic bishop from the 3rd Century, who said: “Anyone who wants to see the sunlight clearly needs to wipe his eye first.”
“The Zaraeeb community welcomed my team and I as if we were family,” the artist told Kurt, for Weburbanist. “It was one of the most amazing human experiences I have ever had. They are generous, honest and strong people.
“They have been given the name of Zabaleen (the Garbage People), but this is not how they call themselves. They don’t live in the garbage but from the garbage; and not their garbage, but the garbage of the whole city. They are the ones who clean the city of Cairo.”
Eight simple ways to brighten up your own neighbourhood (with friendly forms of street art)
Street art doesn’t always have to be graffiti. Street art doesn’t always have to be illegal. And you don’t always need super-power-artistic skills to go out and make your street a tiny bit more beautiful. Today we present to you some friendly forms of street art.