Hunting for Street Art in Moscow is one way to get off the beaten track and see more of the ‘real’ city away from the tourist sights. As a fan of street art, and someone who enjoys finding local haunts, I hopped on the internet to find street art in Moscow.
When I discovered that Australian Street Artist, Fintan Magee had painted a piece a bit out of the city, I decided to find that work first. Then I found that there was a street art project in an otherwise unwelcoming group of Soviet Era flats and decided to visit that suburb too. Both places were easily accessible by metro, so I set off for the nearest metro station.
Australian Street Artist Fintan Magee
Fintan Magee painted “The Messenger” in 2014 as part of a Street Art Festival. It depicts a woman tossing a message in a bottle into the water at her feet. Having seen Fintan Magee’s work in Sydney and in Melbourne, I looked forward to seeing more of his distinctive style in Moscow.
Alighting at Trubnaya station (Line 10), I was delighted to find this station (not on the list of must-see Moscow Metro stations) decorated with brightly coloured glass panels depicting Russian Cities. I took some time to enjoy the station artworks before going in search of “The Messenger”.
Walking the Streets around Trubnaya
Armed with an address for the Artwork (Rozhdestvenka 23/5) and a photograph of the piece with a yellow and white church in the background, I set off. Perhaps it was me not paying attention or maybe I didn’t understand the numbering system, but I walked up and down what I thought was Rozhdestvenka and into little side alleys with no luck.
Asking locals if they knew either the artwork or the address didn’t get me anywhere. People just shrugged or shook their heads. It seemed to me that locals who live in the area walk the same route every day from their home to the metro and back again without taking note of or knowing much about their surroundings.
Finally, a young man took out his phone to find the address on Google Maps (I had tried this but for some reason it didn’t work for me). His clear directions took me straight past the yellow church, where an old woman begging swore at me for not putting coins in her cup. I turned to look back at the artwork.
Instead of “The Messenger”, a blank salmon pink wall faced me. What a disappointment. The security person for a nearby building indicated that the artwork had only just been painted over. Street art doesn’t last forever, but couldn’t they have waited a day or two?
Looking on the bright side, I discovered a Metro I wouldn’t have seen, and had a pleasant walk in a suburb of Moscow while searching search for “the Messenger”.
Central Market Trubnaya
The second set of artworks required another Metro ride, this time to Babushkinskaya Station. On the way back to Trubnaya, I stopped at what appeared to be a café for a coffee break.
Instead of a café, I walked into a rather fancy food court with stalls selling cuisines from all over the world. There was sushi from Japan, Middle Eastern baklawa, Chinese and Italian dishes and of course a range of Russian products. There was also very good coffee.
It turns out that the Food Court (Central Market on 1 Rozhdestvensky Boulevard) was a market before the revolution. Even though “The Messenger” is no longer there, it’s worth visiting Trubnaya just for the food court.
Street Art near Babushkinskaya Metro
Sometime around 2009, as part of an art project, a group of Russian and Dutch artists painted artworks on the side walls of some five-storey flats in an outer suburb near to Babushkinskaya Metro Station. Although around ten years old now, the twelve artworks remain, brightening up what would otherwise be a dull, uninspiring neighbourhood.
While I don’t think I saw a street dog in the city centre, here three dogs rested in hollows they had dug out in a dusty area near the metro station. Bowls of food put out by locals rested on the ground nearby.
Khrushchev Era Housing Estate
From the station, I walked past towers of Khrushchev era housing estates. It dawned on me that this is where the average Muscovite lives – way out from the city centre.
The large parkland and treed areas somewhat relieved the depressing feel of the place, the buildings not dissimilar from the concrete or brick housing estates in Redfern and Waterloo in Sydney.
A Map Would Be Good
After walking about 2 kilometres, the first artwork came into view and I crossed the road for a closer look. Leaving the main road, I entered the housing estate in search of the other 11 pieces. Without a map to indicate the site of each work, I wandered around aimlessly.
Stumbling across a couple more pieces, I found a new housing development and a school behind a fence topped with razor wire which made me wonder if this was a safe place to be.
Then turning a corner, I came across a man looking at a piece of paper which turned out to be a photocopied map showing the locations of each artwork. Without any common language, he couldn’t tell me where I could get a copy of the map, but suggested I photograph his, which I promptly did.
Tired from walking and searching, I found one or two more pieces and decided to call it a day. All in all, I found seven of the twelve works. It was enough. I had got what I came for – colourful street art and a walk through an outer suburb of Moscow probably seen by few visitors to Moscow.
Reflecting on Finding Street Art in Moscow
Returning to my hotel, I reflected on how the search for Street Art in a new city always rewards me in often unexpected ways. I encourage everyone to be a bit adventurous and explore further than the usual tourist sights. You won’t be disappointed.