Graffiti artists could, until now, be summed up thusly: The Famous Ones (hi, Banksy); The Cool Ones; and The Ones Who Tagged Your Garage And Made You Do A Rage Emoji Face. But there’s a new graffiti gang on the scene: LATA 65, The Old Ones. And they’re having a blast adorning the walls of Lisbon with spraypaint.
In 2012, Lara Seixo Rodrigues – one of the founders of WOOL, an organisation that hosts urban art festivals, events and projects in the Portuguese town of Covilhã and beyond – was challenged by a colleague to start a series of street art workshops for older people. LATA 65 — which translates as Can 65 (the age of retirement) — was born.
Lara’s workshops start indoors with the history of street art. Her aim is to bridge the gap between young and old by giving her groups the information and resources they need to get excited about graffiti. Once the history lesson’s over, the group works with graffiti artists to learn techniques, make stencils and design their own tags.
Then it’s to the streets to don masks and gloves, brandish spray cans, and liven up bare, derelict walls with their new-found skills
LATA 65’s members have an average age of 74 – although one woman is 92! – and while there are men involved, it’s the ladies of Lisbon who have really embraced the concept with their artistic talents.
The workshops started in Lisbon, but demand is growing across Portugal. After securing funding from the Orçamento Participativo de Lisboa in 2013, they’re now able to take the project to towns who want to get involved.
Lara says the workshops are having a positive effect on the older people who take part. She thinks the very action of scribbling on a wall — something many haven’t done since they were kids — brings out their inner child and unleashes their imagination.
Some have told her that when they’re painting, they don’t think of anything else. For Lara, in a country emerging from economic crisis, this is one of the most important benefits of LATA 65: a reason to smile, by adding a little colour and creativity to everyone’s lives. It’s having an instant impact for the pensioners getting involved.
You can check out Lata 65’s previous work at various locations in Lisbon, including the districts of Benfica and Olivais. And show your support for the project by buying a badge featuring LATA 65’s granny tag!