Throughout history and still to this day the idea of a wall has plenty of political and symbolic meaning – generally negative, no need to name names. But a colour-loving street art project in Prague has turned the significance of building a wall on its head by making it a communal pursuit, open to all, that raises money for people with special needs in the Czech Republic. Beneficial Brick began as a street art fundraising project in 1999 and it now attracts over 40,000 people per year. This is not surprising to us here at The Chromologist – the whole idea revolves around purchasing a simple brick, grabbing a paint pot and brush then painting your brick however you’d like to before adding it to one of the several brick stands scattered around the Czech Republic. The main one is in the city centre of Prague, on Na Prikope.
At each of the stands the paint and brushes are provided so it’s only up to you to bring an idea. Some bricks have been decorated with political statements and the occasional brick is shuffled to another spot if its placement seems deliberately intended to incite abrasion between people, but mostly the bricks are decorated as flags, or in inspiring (or not so inspiring) patterns, statements of love and positive slogans or suggestions – a shout out now to the designer of “Unicorns are real” and their fitting choice of a rainbow background.
The brick painting takes place between May and October and in the 18 years since the project began, Beneficial Brick has provided finance to around 26 social care facilities throughout the region. These centres provide protected housing, jobs in sheltered workshops and generally create opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to live more independently and with dignity. The project’s mission is to donate every Euro raised and we can’t think of a nicer way to spend money and time than with a paint brush and a big pile of bricks.