Photo Essay

Hostel Graffiti Walls: Before bedtime journals

Graffiti - country of origin

GRAFFITI IS ONE OF THE URBAN ISSUES that a town/city management is facing nowadays. From public toilets to narrow alleys, and from bus stations to underground railways, or even under a concrete bridge and school walls, graffiti is becoming a way of urban life and it is branded as a "crime" act.

It reflects personal opinions, an expression of political agenda or movement against the government, or even linked to the modern hip-hop music culture.

In Northern Ireland where I live now, discussions were made among concern communities on the retention or removal of this graffiti (as wall paintings called "murals") - a reflection of the troubles in the past.

When I visited Italy (where graffiti is derived from an Italian word, "graffiato" which means "scratched") in June 2008, I found out that it is being tolerated. It is not a crime; it's an art form in the hometown of David (Michelangelo's masterpiece), as being performed inside a hostel in Florence!

Ostello Archi Rossi is an affordable accommodation, located just few minutes away from the train station and very popular for young travellers, including families and group tours. It also offers free city-walk tours and breakfast, including wi-fi internet connection.

As I walked through the corridors where the rooms are located, both walls are filled with hand writings and paintings. The walls become a "guestbook or logbook" - a wall canvas of expression of emotions, gratifications, and creative minds. I did closer shots of them and it is fascinating to read these different notes, dedications and messages.

Majority of them show the country of origin of the hostel guest, the date/year of visit, university affiliation, and even their affections to other guests. On the other hand, I was surprised that inside the rooms, graffiti is nowhere to be found, except for the double deck steel beds with clean white linens!

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