Gnomesville: an unusual roadside community of thousands of garden gnomes

In the Ferguson Valley of country Western Australia there lives a thriving community of gnomes, in a gnome village called Gnomesville. And no. I’m not joking. Garden gnomes are a classic symbol of kitschy yard decorations around the world, but most people are content to have just a couple of the little creatures living in their yards. But Gnomesville, a collection of thousands of the weird little statuettes set up on a roundabout, is definitely something different. The community of silent gnomes actually began as a whimsical protest some 20…

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Katzenbalgen, the Monument to Homeless Cats

In Braunschweig, Germany, where the streets Hutfilter, Damm and Kattreppeln meet in the pedestrian zone, the most gorgeous, humorous and unconventional monument of the city has stood since 1981, the “Katzenbalgen” stele by Siegfried Neuenhausen, a former professor at the Braunschweig University of Art and one of the most outstanding personalities in Lower Saxony’s art scene. The monument is impressively large and looks like a high stele, on which a variety of bronze cats are fixed in different poses. All people who see the monument for the first time notice…

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Berlin: The Return of the Cows

Dietrich-Bonhoeffer Strasse is a quiet street in Berlin, which lies on the lively edge of gentrified Prenzlauerberg’s encroachment into Friedrichshain. If you are in the splendid German capital, apparently there aren’t many reasons to visit an otherwise ordinary street. However, Sergej Dott’s whimsical public art installation, “Die Rückkehr der Kühe” (literally “The Return of the Cows”) just might make it worth the trip. Halfway down the block, if you peer into the empty lot (currently a building site) and look up, you’ll see a green field full of larger-than-life cows…

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Fremont Troll – Seattle

A five and a half meters tall troll, made of cement lives underneath an overpass in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. With only half of its torso showing, the concrete statue appears to be emerging from the ground. Its lone eye, once a hubcap, stares down the tunnel, while its left hand clutches a car that strayed too close. The car is an actual Volkswagen Beetle encased in concrete, which was red and bear a California license plate. The Troll was constructed in 1990 after winning a Fremont Arts Council competition for…

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Sapporo, Japan: a giant Buddha statue wrapped in a Lavender Hill

In the Makomanai Takino cemetery, in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo, the famous Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, designed a spectacular temple, opened in December 2015. “The aim of this project was to build a prayer hall that would enhance the attractiveness of a stone Buddha sculpted 15 years ago. The site is a gently sloping hill on 180 hectares of lush land belonging to a cemetery. The statue is 13.5 metres tall and weighs 1500 tons. It is made of fine, highly selected solid stone. Until now, the…

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Metelkova: the alternative cultural center in Ljubljana

If you ask any local in Ljubljana, they will point you in the right direction, 5 minutes from the city centre of Slovenia’s capital city. The area now known as Metelkova (full name in Slovene: Avtonomni kulturni centre Metelkova mesto, “Metelkova City Autonomous Cultural Centre”) was once a military barracks, but you would never know it by its state today, covered in a psychedelic cacophony of colorful street art, graffiti, and every kind of punk rock visuals. Originally commissioned by the Austro-Hungarian army back in 1882 and completed in 1911,…

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Jane Greengold and the Impaled Pumpkins of Kane Street – Brooklyn

Halloween is a tradition in Cobble Hill, and Jane’s 274 spike fence is a tradition at the neighborhood. It was October 1998 when artist and public interest lawyer Jane Greengold though of a special use for the spiky fence guarding her home in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. As she looked out over the enclosure where Kane Street and Strong Place intersect, it dawned on her: why not adorn the fence with grinning, howling, shrieking pumpkins in the spirit of Halloween? “I’m not a violent person,” said Jane, “but when I saw…

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The Red Ghost of Quartzsite, Arizona~

Quartzsite, Arizona, is a small town with a passion for camels. Camels play a big role in this community’s history, so it’s no wonder that camel replicas pop up all over town. The town’s welcome sign is adorned with camels. Its graveyard is the final resting place for Hadji Ali, a camel herder for the U.S. military. The most recent addition isn’t new. It has simply returned from the dead. Or, in this case, the scrap heap! Just off of the 10 freeway sits Georgette, a scrap metal camel and…

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The Devil Heads that loom over the village of Želízy in Czech Republic.

A macabre sight awaits hikers exploring the pine forest above the village of Želízy in Protected Landscape Area Kokořínsko in Czech Republic: two enormous demonic faces carved into sandstone blocks, who stare visitors with their empty eyes. Created by Vaclav Levy (1820/1870), the sculptor founder of modern Czech sculpture, in the mid 1800s, the about 9 meters tall stone heads are known locally as Čertovy hlavy or the “The Devil Heads” and have been a local attraction for generations, while other carvings by the artist including artificial caves and scenes…

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International Car Forest of the Last Church~

The International Car Forest of the Last Church is the unusual dream project of two Nevada artists. Some artists work with paint, others with clay, marble or stone. Chad Sorg’s challenge was to make art with cars, buses and trucks and this “church” looks more similar to a druidic henge of junkers than any Christian chapel! The product of artists Chad Sorg and Mark Rippie, the Car Forest began when the Reno artist Chad Sorg was driving through Goldfield, Nevada, several years ago and saw a vehicle sticking out of…

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The “Merry Cemetery” in Romania: colors and irony to exorcise death.

For us cemeteries are places of mourning and sadness: these are places in which the dead rest. On the tombstones usually only the dates of birth and death appear. When someone dies, their memory generally enters a kind of idealized state in the minds of those who loved them. Often their flaws are forgiven and forgotten, and the way in which they passed (especially if it was unpleasant) often goes unspoken, and on their tombstone generalized niceties are written, often reduced to as little as “Rest in Peace.” But not…

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