Two boys cycling past a utility box painted with a figure from South Park
Albania,  Lens-Artists,  Photographing Public Art,  Street art,  Travel galleries

Gallery: boxing clever in Tirana

People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.

Banksy, Wall and Piece

Opinion is divided on street art / graffiti. Some consider it vandalism, others (including me) enjoy the way it brightens a city. Great street art can be beautiful; it can make you think; it can even transform a district (as it has in some of the comunas of Medellin).

Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet.

Banksy (again)

So of course I was on the lookout for street art in Tirana, as I am everywhere I go. I spotted some great pieces on suburban apartment blocks on our drive from the airport, but these were almost impossible to photograph. However they set high hopes for what I would find in the city centre, hopes that were only partly realised. For the most part street art there seemed to be restricted to utility boxes. I certainly found a good selection of those!

Apart from these boxes, however, I only found occasional pieces. A shop shutter here, a wall outside a café there … It was only in the area near the flea market, a little away from the main tourist sights, that I spotted one larger piece, and that was at a difficult angle for photos, although I did my best.

Finally, here is a legitimate art work, Reja or the Cloud, by Sou Fujimoto. It stands in front of the National Gallery of Arts where it serves as a focal point for cultural events in the city.

Art installation with lots of white poles
The Cloud

The ‘Visit Tirana’ website says of it:

The Pavilion is a delicate, three-dimensional structure; each unit comprises fine steel bars of 800 and 400 mm rectangles. It forms a semi-transparent, irregular canopy, simultaneously protecting visitors from the elements while allowing them to remain part of the landscape. The footprint of the structure is 350 square-metres and the Pavilion has two entrances. A series of stepped terraces provide seating areas that allow the Pavilion to be used as a flexible, multi-purpose social space. The delicate quality of the structure, enhanced by its semi-transparency, creates a geometric, cloud-like form, as if it were mist rising from the undulations of the park.

I’m sharing these for two challenges: John’s Lens Artists and Natalie’s Photographing Public Art.

I visited Tirana in April 2023


    • Sarah Wilkie

      US culture is particularly pervasive – I’m so used to seeing it in Europe that it didn’t strike me as surprising, apart from the Clockwork Orange one as that’s such an old film now!

  • pattimoed

    Interesting collection, Sarah. The sculpture (last image) was really very striking. I enjoyed the one with the clothespin, too. 🙂

  • equinoxio21

    Very good. Of course some tags are just that: tags… But street art? It is the way of the future… It is showing some kind of future – that we can’t really understand – in a dismal world…

  • SoyBend

    I like the art on the utility boxes because it shows so much in a relatively small space. I liked the Simpson’s one (I went to college with their creator) and the Don Quixote on a bike one. Also liked the line full of perching birds with one going its own way.

  • grandmisadventures

    I quite love street art and the varied styles and messages all side by side the daily life. The small town where my dad is from in Colorado has this huge cement waterway and the city will provide whatever materials someone wants and give them a big slab to paint on. Its become this long incredible art gallery of street art

  • Marie

    I like painted utility boxes – unless they’ve been tagged of course… another vote here for the clothes peg and the boy looking at the birds – great selection Sarah.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Me too – so much better than their usual dull appearance! I wish someone would do the ones around here 🙂 Glad you like the peg and the birds – they seem to be the winners generally!

  • Tina Schell

    Some terrific choices this week Sarah, which I’ll surely never see in person so thank you for that! Of these the little birds were my favorite altho many others were wonderful. I must admit thought that I’m not a fan of The Cloud. I wonder how the locals like it?!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks so much Tina 😊 I’m rather fond of the birds too. When we were at the Cloud it was being used by a local leading a walking tour as a place for his group to sit while he told them some history of the city. Maybe people appreciate it for what it can be used for rather than as art?

  • JohnRH

    Love the Banksy quote. Graffiti does seem invasive, but some of it is so well done you can’t deny the expertise. Scrawls are the worst, IMO.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks John 🙂 There are so many things that come under the umbrella of street art, from ugly tags to beautifully worked pieces and all shades in between!

  • maristravels

    It’s always good to leave a place feeling that you’ve just missed something. My husband used to say “When we come back next time ……” knowing that we would probably never go back but he felt it was essential to have that hope of returning – and that applied to me buying that handbag or shoes that I felt I couldn’t afford at the time, or in one case an elaborate birdcage – as well as catching up on sight-seeing! You’ve got a lovely collection here, Sarah, and like most of your followers, I love the clothes peg best.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I agree Mari and we’re the same – we rarely go back but there are always a few things we know we would be sure to see if we do 😀 The consensus is definitely on the peg as favourite and I’m inclined to agree, although I have a fondness for the owls too.

  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    You found some interesting street art, Sarah. I love seeing it, but I wish someone would paint the utility boxes around here. They look so much prettier with an artist’s touch. Nice post!

  • Anne Sandler

    Great post Sarah. I liked the clothes pin mural and the Cloud. I’m all for street art when it’s done as part of an organized effort and not just tagging. If you can think of a structure as an art piece, then the Cloud is art. I happen to enjoy architecture and think some buildings are beautiful.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Anne. I’m not a fan of tagging but at the same time I don’t think good street art has to be organised – it just has to be good art! The Cloud seems to be dividing people, and I have to say I think it looks better in my photo than I found it to be at the time – it was a little dull. But yes, like you I really enjoy good architecture 🙂

  • Natalie

    I enjoyed this varied and interesting collection of street art, Sarah. Great shot of the Peg in spite of the difficult angle. I like the Cloud, too. Thank you for your PPAC contribution.


    OK it’s philistine time for Phil. That “Cloud” thing is rubbish, as is the “Visit Tirana” eulogy. In my opinion! Give me the 3D peg thing any time, that’s more like it. I’d far rather see some meaningful, passionate message- carrying street art than officially sanctioned rubbish like “The Cloud” any time. Told you it was philistine time…..😁

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I don’t think it’s being a philistine to have a preference for one piece of art over another, and to be honest I’m with you in preferring the peg to the Cloud. I quite liked the effect of the latter’s whiteness against the blue sky, but apart from that it did little for me!

  • margaret21

    I’m on the side of ‘Fan of Street Art’ and you have a great varied selection here. I’m less sure about sanctioned or official street art. It loses its edge – and its point, somehow.

  • Alison.

    Some great ones here Sarah, especially the peg, very original
    Such an amazing structure, it amazes me how people think of things like this

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Alison, glad you liked them. The peg was quite a find, but it was only when we left Tirana on the airport bus that I realised that if we’d walked another block or two I’d have found several more on that scale!

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