Prague's Lennon Wall to get security cameras and authorized mural, random spraying will be banned

Changes are coming to Prague’s Lennon Wall to return it to a symbol of peace and freedom

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 25.07.2019 08:51:55 (updated on 25.07.2019) Reading time: 4 minutes


Changes are coming to Prague’s John Lennon Wall to help return it
to its original purpose as a symbol of peace and freedom. Recently,
it has been filled with vulgar graffiti and scribblings, often made
by tourists who are unaware of the historical significance of the
site.

The wall will
undergo a renovation to return it to its original reverent character.
Spray painting by unauthorized people will be forbidden. Instead, a
mural by professional artists will be created. Information about the
history and symbolism of the place will be added. Security cameras
will be installed to prevent vandalism.

The Lennon Wall is located in Kampa on the grounds of the embassy of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, or Knights of Malta for short. The religious order has maintained the wall since graffiti first appeared in the 1980s, after the death of former Beatle John Lennon. They have recently been concerned about abuse of the wall.

Tourist spraying on the wall. via Raymond johnston

These changes come
from a meeting of representatives of Prague 1 and the Knights of
Malta. Further meetings will iron out details.

“I am glad that we
agreed on a common approach, and we are not against each other. We
will return to having a place of piety with its original luster. The
wall will still carry on the legacy it had had so far, but in an
artistic spirit. We are also planning an information campaign on its
history,” Prague 1 Deputy Mayor Petr Hejma (STAN) said, according
to daily Lidové noviny.

Knights of Malta
spokeswoman Hedvika Čepelová said that the new look should return
the wall to symbolism about John Lennon that it had in the past.
“Today’s appearance reminds us of it only remotely. … We want a
dignified reminder of the place,” she said.

lennon wall
Mural of John Lennon on May 1, 2019. via Raymond Johnston

Hejma said the
Knights of Malta had suggested ending the use of the wall completely,
but understood that this move would be unpopular.

Hejma added that
Prague 1 will ensure that there will be no vandalism, unauthorized
spraying and drinking parties at the wall. The district will install
security cameras, reinforce patrols and clean up the graffiti on
trees.

An infopoint that
should set limits for the behavior of visitors is also being planned.
Historical information about the wall should be available in several
languages.

lennon wall
Environmentalists painting over the authorized 30th anniversary of freedom mural in April 2019. via Raymond Johnston

“Schools from all
over the country come here, but as we have learned, they sometimes
tell children that there is painting on the wall, but do not explain
the reason,” Hejma said.

Loud busking and
begging for money will also be banned, as there have been complaints
from local residents and the French Embassy, which shares
Velkopřevorské náměstí with the wall. Spontaneous singing and
acoustic performances will be allowed if they are in line with
enhancing the atmosphere of the place.

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“We do not want
busking here with people collecting money. If they want to play, they
can, but only with the intention of promoting the atmosphere of the
place,” Hejma said.

lennon wall
Person spraying the wall after the Wall Is Over event in 2014. via Raymond Johnston

The wall itself is
about 300 years old and made of sandstone. A garden owned by the
Knights of Malta is behind it. The order plans to repair the wall
after consulting with conservationists, as it is part of the city’s
protected monument area.

Once the wall is
repaired, professional artists should create an artistic mural of art
relating to the legacy of John Lennon. Knights of Malta spokeswoman
Čepelová said that images of Lennon and Havel are often rare on the
wall these days.

An authorized mural made by international artists to celebrate 30 years of freedom was painted on the wall in March of this year. It had messages of peace and freedom in several languages and portraits of Václav Havel and John Lennon.

Busker and spraypainter in 2014. via Raymond Johnston

It lasted only only three weeks before a group of environmentalists in April declared a “guerrilla action” and painted the wall over completely with environmental slogans.

That in turn was rapidly painted over. On May 1, a national holiday for both love and labor, an artist painted a large portrait of John Lennon, though that too did not last long.

In 2014, a group of
students intended to reboot the wall by painting it white in the
middle of the night, and adding the phrase “Wall Is Over,” a pun
on the Lennon’s 1970s campaign War Is Over. At that time, people
quickly repainted the wall but mostly with pictures of Lennon and
lyrics to Beatles’s songs.

lennon wall
Someone painting a peace sign after the Wall Is Over event. via Raymond Johnston

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