The Talking Walls of Shtula, Israel

The “Talking Walls”, Shtula

photography by: Omri Westmark

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Since the establishment of Israel, its northern border with Lebanon has witnessed multiple conflicts that claimed the lives of thousands of people. What would otherwise be just another military mean to protect the residents of Shtula, an Israeli border village, from snipers turned into a spectacular art installation when a group of artists from different countries covered the area’s concrete wall with a series of vividly colorful murals.

On the 12th of July 2006, three Israeli soldiers were killed and two others captured following an insurgent attack by the militant Shiite organization of Hezbollah, sparking a 34-day full-scale war. In the aftermath of the deadly conflict, many Israeli towns and villages along the Lebanese border were fortified with a protective wall which obstructs sharpshooters from targeting civilians and soldiers alike.


Up until a few years ago, the 200 meter long and 4-meter-tall concrete barricade on the outskirts of Shtula, an Israeli border townlet, was unanimously deemed as an eyesore. That all changed in 2018, when Merav Uziel, a local photo-therapist and a bereaved sister, opted to transform the otherwise intimidating wall into a canvas for muralists from all over the world.


Endorsed by the regional authority as well as the residents of Shtula, Uziel successfully gathered the support for her idea from Artists4Israel, an American charity that tries improving Israel’s image worldwide by art. Uziel’s relentless endeavor culminated on May 2018, when eight international artists accompanied by a couple of Israeli counterparts, were invited to beautify the incongruous structure, aptly dubbing it the “Talking Walls”.


While all creators were granted a full freedom to express themselves, there was one condition – no politics involved. In a matter of a single week, the concrete monster was covered with dozens of quaint murals, ultimately becoming a quirky tourist attraction. Among the works visitors can marvel at are a multi-chromatic horde of elephants by the South-African muralist FLAKO, and a pair of maidens dressed with a blue attire lying next to each other by NMSalgar, a graffiti artist from Miami.