Kadri Lind wrote her bachelor’s thesis about Tartu’s street artists in 2012. She is currently busy organising city festival UIT and street art festival Sõnum Seinal (‘Message on the Wall‘). Kadri is also one of the initiators of the Uus Õu project in Tartu.
In the middle of the 1980s, Ülo Kiple was the first person to use public space for communication. His mission was to spread the message “haiguste ravi, kontrollitud” (‘treatment of diseases – checked‘) all over Estonia, but unfortunately he ended up in a psychiatric hospital and soon committed suicide. He is now an influential figure in popular culture, although only hints of his work are to be seen today.
2006 was the birth of the street art scene in Tartu as we know it now. This was the year when MinaJaLydia, TAF and Edward von Lõngus discovered stencil technique and started their night shifts. Since then, many other artists have emerged: Sorro, müra2000, Satinka, Hapnik, Rododendronism, Ruudu Rahumaru, Von Bomb and most recently Kairo, who has named her technique acryliti (acryl + graffiti). Stencil is still very popular, but more and more artists are intrigued by free hand graffiti.
Tartu has been very open-minded when it comes to street art; the city even supports the street art festival Stencibility. In 2010 Stencibility was planned to be a stencil art festival, but it keeps growing and widening: This year was a special one, because Stencibility hosted its first foreign street artist, Kashink from Paris. Kashink is known for her enormous free-hand characters and she is the author of the mural on Võru Street.
Like any other street artists, artists in Tartu like to keep a low profile: They work at night, use pseudonyms or are completely anonymous and are very sensitive about their surroundings. They are highly motivated and keep looking for new techniques and ways to develop themselves. And the hard work pays off: This year MinaJaLydia was invited to Prosessifestivaali in Helsinki, the original Edward von Lõngus stencils of Anton Hansen Tammsaare and Lydia Koidula were purchased by the Tartu Art Museum and the last copy of those stencils was bought from the Auction of Young Art for the record of €1200.
If you’d like to see the most interesting pieces in Tartu and hear about their authors and backgrounds, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and book a suitable time for a bike tour around the local sights. This year has been especially good to local street art because a new international street art festival entitled Sõnum Seinal takes place in Pärnu, where almost all the street artists of Estonia will come together and paint on 10–14 August.
All images in this post are courtesy of: http://suurjalutuskaik.blogspot.com/