Urban art brings warmth to Soho

Estrella Zurita and Estrella Malet putting one of the wraps in place.
Estrella Zurita and Estrella Malet putting one of the wraps in place. / SALVADOR SALAS
  • Two business owners with time on their hands decided to crochet colourful wraps for the local orange trees to attract new visitors to the arty Malaga district

At a time of year when the weather is unsettled and half of Spain is freezing cold, what could be better than wrapping yourself up in a bit of urban art? Two businesswomen from the Soho district of Malaga, tired of seeing nothing in the way of decoration but graffiti, decided to crochet covers for the orange trees which line the streets of the area.

"Well, this is supposed to be the arts district, so we thought we would draw attention to that fact," they say. And so they set about 'yarn bombing' Soho to attract new visitors.

Estrella Zurita and Estrella Malet, who are mother and daughter, own the Lock And Relax left luggage business, and they had time on their hands because there are so few tourists in the city nowadays. What began as a mother's hobby, something to do to pass the time, has become an initiative that is highly appreciated by other business owners and residents of the district. "We wanted to cheer things up a bit," they say.

The wraps are strikingly colourful and cover practically the whole trunk of the orange trees.

The wraps are strikingly colourful and cover practically the whole trunk of the orange trees. / Salvador Salas

Their aim was to decorate all 29 trees in the district, starting in Casas de Campos, the street in which their business is located, and they have almost completed the project.

The younger Estrella says all the designs are different and they are all hand-crocheted. The patterns are simple but colourful and are certainly eye-catching. The idea is for them to remain in place until at least the spring.

"The orange trees were looking very sad and a bit neglected," say these ladies, and as their idea has had such a positive response they have now decided to repeat it but with different designs whenever there is an important event in the Soho district, such as the Goya award ceremony which is due to take place in March.

They are sure that this urban art will attract more visitors and will therefore help to boost business in local bars and shops when the pandemic is over. They are not seeking to make money out of the project. The Soho Malaga business association has paid for the materials, and this mother and daughter team receive no payment for their many hours of crochet work.

An international movement

The yarn bombing movement began several years ago, and in America a group called Yarn Bombing Los Angeles has been decorating their city in this way since 2010. One attraction of crochet is that it can be used in many different ways, including on trees, walls and buildings.

In Spain, there are several yarn bombing groups in cities such as Barcelona, Zaragoza, La Coruña and Valencia, and similar initiatives have taken place on the Costa del Sol and other parts of Andalucía. Unlike graffiti, these crochet decorations leave no lasting mark and have no negative effects.

However, when Estrella and her daughter began, they had no idea that yarn bombing was so popular. "We decided to do it after a girl from a photography college showed us some photos, and we thought how nice it would be to do something like that," they say. Once they started, they liked the effect so much that they are happy to continue to brighten up their local area as well as people's lives.