Paula had been watching these guys from her balcony for a long time before deciding to act. It was late one Tuesday night, the old music teacher took the elevator down to street level, opened the front door and strolled across the square with purpose.
“You’re bring creative life back to this place!” she exclaimed. “You don’t know how happy I am. We used to be the beating heart of Barcelona’s creative hub, but now the artists have all gone to Gracia or somewhere else. Moved out because of gentrification. I live in the flat overlooking the square and I’m so happy to see you bringing art back to the street.” Then, quick as a flash she presented the remnants of some ancient art project she’d had stored for over a decade, waved us goodbye and disappeared into the night, never to be seen again. Looking up, I saw two confused Australians holding an old canvas. Unsure of what to say, I proceeded to pour paint over a crate looted from a nearby skip.
We were in Plaza George Orwell and this was one of my first experiences at the weekly Every Tuesday event and – under the guidance of our classmate and travelling artist Jing, we were making art – or at least trying to. I guess a question you might have is, why?
The idea was inspired by Jing’s concerns about sustainability. Every Tuesday the residents of Raval and el Barrio Gotico leave their trash out for binmen to collect. Old furniture, wooden boards, disused lamps, and lonely mannequins litter the corners of these historic districts. This chaotic assortment of broken things gave birth to an idea: if there is so much trash just left lying about, why don’t we use it – surely, we can be more creative with our waste?
Over the course of a couple of months, what started as a fun tongue-in-cheek solution to Barcelona’s endless supply of broken furniture and cardboard boxes, transformed into a regular Tuesday night fixture. Bin raiders now scurry around the back alleys of Raval, avoiding drunk tourists, dodging the drug dealers, to collect the finest trash that Barcelona had to offer, before bringing it back to the square. The “event” is about creating a community that connects people together through art. No limitations are placed on the material people use or the music they play. Some people just like to paint. The hipsters play music, dance or sing. The more literary types, delve into discarded books and magazines to carve out words or tracts of text for make-shift poems that are plastered across plywood. The rest come to just sit there and enjoy life.
Jing explains the events have always been about inclusivity. Every Tuesday is about reaching out to those who are interested in the events and want to join in, but are afraid that they can’t be artists because they didn’t study art. It is about trying to erase the idea that there is some invisible line separating them from “the creatives”. Creativity does not have to be expressed through art or music. Anyone can be creative, even an accountant or mathematician in their own peculiar way – after all, the beauty of Einstein’s theory of relativity lies not in the phsyics, but in how such complexity is expressed through the deceptively easy E = mc2.
As everyone has this artistic potential bottled-up inside, Jing’s events have always been about creating a safe space in which it can be unleashed; where people can express themselves. While we’ve come to the end of our time in Barcelona, maybe next year’s cohort will carry the flame, and who knows – maybe this will inspire you to do something just a little different. At least it’s better than staying in.