East Pasila is known as a street art district, and for a good reason: there’s about a hundred pieces all over the area, and during every painting season we are BUSY BEES. Streetscape lives and breathes, as street art is born, transformed and sometimes lost, too. A good part of that birth giving is organized by Helsinki Urban Art and the Pasila Street Art District Project.
Pasila has a long history when it comes to street art: ever since street art landed in Finland in the 1980s, it quickly found its home in the concrete jungle of Pasila. Pasila had square meter after square meter perfect surface and nice spots for painting, and it was close to the center and easily accessed by train. A very popular hotspot for painting was a train tunnel called Pasila Gallery, which was one of the most significant painting spots for several years. In 1992 during The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) the city of Helsinki even commissioned young street artists to paint about 200 square meters of wall in East Pasila. Then everything changed: 1998–2008 city took on a complete zero tolerance on street art, forcing the street art culture of Helsinki in a very difficult position. All murals, even the commissioned ones, were demolished – an entire subculture of art became invisible.
After the zero tolerance on street art in Helsinki ended in 2008, city’s street art culture came alive again, slowly but steadily. Pasila Street Art District Project was started in 2017 to bring back the street art image of Pasila, and it has brought different artists and styles from different parts of the world to the area ever since. The project also kicked off Helsinki Urban Art, an association determined to bring more art and culture to the city. Helsinki Urban Art also has an Urban Art Center in the address Opastinsilta 6. More info on the Urban Art Center here. Helsinki Urban Art is also known for the street art tours held in East Pasila area, during which a great deal of pieces are being introduced and stories about the pieces are told. If you are interested in taking part in a street art tour or booking a private tour, read more here. All profits from the tours will be used to cover the costs of the street art projects.
The main partners of the project are The Finnish Cultural Foundation, Teknos Oy, and EUNIC Finland, with its members Goethe-Institut, the Embassy of Austria, the Hungarian Balassi Institute, the Embassy of Poland, the Embassy of Czech Republic, the Italian Cultural Institute, and Eesti Instituut. The project has also been supported by the City of Helsinki, Embassy of the United States of America, Museum of Impossible Forms, Taike – the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, and the Central Baltic Programme.