CUF Worker’s District, in Barreiro, and the new Rua da União, that connects it to the old factory complex, have reasons to celebrate. This was the place chosen by the artist Vhils to create his largest mural piece to date.
This artistic intervention of Vhils can be seen in the “União” street, a new road that extends for two hectares, with walks and renovated streets and several green zones – a Tagus Bay initiative. The street links the old CUF Workers' Quarter with Barreiro’s centre, going through the old factory territory, where two reference museums are open to the public: the Mausoleum and the House Museum dedicated to Alfredo da Silva, founder of CUF in 1865.
The new artistic intervention signed by Alexandre Farto, also known as Vhils, is part of the rehabilitation works in Barreiro, and is based on an original technique of bas-relief sculpture developed by the artist in 2007 – which has been materialized in several sites around the world, with the title “Scratching the Surface Project”.
Believing that the history of a place is linked to all those who resided and worked in it, this intervention presents itself as a contribution to the preservation of Barreiro's social memory. This large-scale intervention aims to extol and honour the human presence that has shaped the territory’s identity, reflecting an intention to humanize the built heritage.
This work by Vhils, occupying the huge wall of the “Sobe e Desce”, that gives access to CUF Worker’s District, combines several human, landscape and architectural elements from Barreiro’s past, conversing about sustainability and the safekeeping of the cultural, human and historical heritage, while looking at the future. The various human elements that give life to the composition – between individual faces and groups of local workers and townspeople – are based on a vast collection of images from Barreiro’s history, specially from its recent industrial past.