When I decided to pop down to Lagos in Portugal, I wasn’t really thinking of going there for any specific purpose. In fact, it was a pretty random decision influenced somewhat by the fact that I just wanted to go somewhere beachy in the Algarve, Julika’s rather intriguing post about how she loved Lagos, and that it was an easy direct bus ride away from Lisbon (4 hours by EVA bus).
(which are good enough reasons, really. I’ve decided to go to places based on nothing more than a ‘feeling’ or liking the name of the place)
Mostly, I figured a beach town would mostly be a nice way to chill out from the buzz of busy Lisbon city. So as we were walking (uphill, as you do in Portugal) to find the cliff-top coastal walk, imagine my surprise when I chance upon this beauty of a piece out of nowhere:
And I KNEW it was a Roa piece immediately when I saw it. The style (which I first saw in London – how cool is it that some of my first street art encounters in London and Lagos are both Roa!) is pretty distinct – the sketchy monochrome animals… but could it really be? I did a little bit of a Google search that night and found out that Lagos, while better known as a party beach town or hangout for older British tourists, actually has a thriving street art scene! A lot of it is due to the good folk of LAC, which stands for Laboratório de Actividades Criativas and they run a yearly residency programme called ARTURb, (short for Artistas Unidos Em Residência or United Artists in Residence) which invites a small international group of street artists to come together in Lagos to create and exhibit their works – I visited the exhibition, more on that at the bottom of this post.
But if you’re in Lagos and taking a break from the beach, I highly recommend you take a walk around the city and look out for the artworks these artists have left behind, a more permanent legacy of their time here. Very cool stuff indeed – it’s a nice way to explore the city, though prepare to do a fair bit of walking. Cycling might not be a bad idea as well so you cover more ground more quickly.
These are my pix and a little more detail on where to find these works – they’re mostly found in clusters which I’ve grouped for you by location, so you can see bunches of works by area if you’d rather not do too much walking at once. Also included is the very useful and detailed map by the LAC folk for those using google maps to point themselves in the right direction.
RUA LANCAROTE DE FREITAS
You’re right in the centre of the old town area. Most probably you’ll spot the giant fish work which is close to the town centre, and once you do, just follow the road straight up from there to check out the other works.
RUA DE ATALAIA / RUA INFANTE DE SAGRES
Just about 5 minutes walk away from Rua Lancarote da Freita above, you’ll see a mix of older and brand new works around here. Funny story is that these were some of the first works that we saw that day. The LAC map wasn’t updated with the 2014 works when we were walking around, so we only saw the 2014 works by Borondo and Sepe at Rua Infante de Sagres after we’d spent an entire afternoon walking, and then found ourselves back at where we started! Funny how we could have seen those works earlier if we’d only walked about 50m more down the road!
RUA DOM VASCO DE GAMA / LAC BUILDING
If you’re walking towards the bus station or near the Marina or train station, there are a bunch of older, smaller works that you can find here. You can also take this opportunity to visit the LAC Building at Rua Convento Senora da Gloria – be warned that it’s up a slope, so be prepared for a little climbing!
AVENIDA DES DESCOMBRIMENTOS
This long road stretches from the Marina all the way down to the cliffs, so you’re likely to see some of these works as you enter the city or walk along the river. I particularly love the Aryz work which was done in April 2014 and is super majestic. The other works near the circus came from the inaugural batch of artists here in 2011, so they might be looking a little worse for wear, but definitely cool to see they’ve lasted so long!
Check out their little building at Rua Convento Senora da Gloria, which used to be a prison back in the day, and these days is an ever-evolving gallery of these artists works, past and present. The current batch of artists in 2014 include Borondo (Spain), Sepe (Poland), Mario Belem (Portugal), Dome (Germany) and Pipsqueak (Netherlands) and they had a pretty awesome exhibition showing when we were there. Check out their Facebook page for more details and updates on new works popping up around Lagos.
Looking for more street art? Check out my other guides: