Wall writing

Reading the wall from the factory of Kalamaris

The Story:

It was founded by the brothers Georgiadis and Kalamaris in the 1880s, during a period of economic development of Mytilene. It had many parallel uses: One was Flour Making – Pasta Making, and another was Cotton Processing – Spinning. It had other minor functions such as Olive Mill and Carpentry[1]. It is characterized by an organic construction since most of the Kalamaris’ factory buildings are additions to a plot of 17000sq.m. It ceased operations in 1990 due to debts to the National Bank and in 1993 was listed as a historic building by the Government Gazette[2].In 2019, according to a report by the newspaper The Island (Το Νησί), it was bought by hoteliers from Paros to turn it into a hotel with a conference center and cultural complex[3].

The former Kalamari factory


The inscriptions

The three inscriptions on the Kalamaris tower are signs of three youth groups that left their mark in an era of great reorganizations in the society of Lesvos. Controversial viewpoints on immigration and political asylum issues, on the position of women in the local community, on the rights of young people but also on the very act of writing on the wall.

The graphs 381 (made in 2011) and Everywhere (in 2012) remind us of the Brazilian pixasão concept and the style of other graffiti (eg Cost Revs of New York). They follow the same procedure: inscriptions done at the higher point of an empty building for everyone to see from the main coastal road of Mytilene. They took place at a time when the student [in secondary education] uprising was strongly influenced by the student [in tertiary education] uprising[1] of December 2009, the movement of the “Indignant Citizens” in 2011 and the anti-fascist movement that continues to this day.

The inscriptions 381 and ΠΑΝΤΑΧΟΥ (‘PANTACHOU’ which means ‘EVERYWHERE’). 
First photo by Maia, second image from the music video Pantachou Diamond II.


We were told that the Pantachou chart was written by “the little ones”. That’s how they went down in history, even though they grew up. It is a rap-graffiti band from Mytilene. Copy from: Everywhere Diamond II lyrics Milios / Koper, 2012, which has put the image of the Kalamaris tower in 2012 on a purple background.

“How to express it, I fold, I’m little to laugh, I put grease on my machine, and I run to the end…”. The song shows in a way the dead ends (financial and cultural) and the concerns of a young rage that lives the crisis in Mytilene. And then:

“Sees the rainbow and the dolphins, and falls in love…” On a day like this, everyone should leave their homes. In the trap, however, they are like mice… “.

Two years later in the Pantachos collection, the same band will say:

“Stupefy, they want your mind to be muddled. “Man, they want you down, so low that you can lick the bottom more easily … You do not overcome problems because you take a walk on Saturday… You have never been loved for that, for you love is for laughs…”.

The inscription on the wall Everywhere is an important reference to the students [in secondary education] of Mytilene. On the bottom right of the wall, a member of Everywhere created in 2017 a work of art in the form of a mural[1].


381 is a group that started in Thessaloniki with members from various cities. It was established in 2010, however its members have jointly been active since a few years before. The central expression was the graffiti, yet they conducted multiple parallel actions and beyond this, and often in sync with the period’s social movements.

The creator (Maya) says:

381 is the number of the article in the Greek penal code referring to the damage on a foreign property. Or at least this was when the team was formed …! The name was chosen in reference to this article. It has something provocative and comical to write the number of the article of the crime that you cause by tagging it …!


What led her to mark this building?

Pride I think, or some kind of arrogance. The building is in a very strategic location, and we see it face-to-face when we leave the city, it is also very imposing … a perfect spot to do something big that those around you will notice. I also like that it has no other buildings around it, and it is open to the sea and sky. It has grace, not so much in form as in its location … especially when you are on its roof, you feel magical.


As a student I used to explore empty buildings and climb as high as I could (I painted the squid over 10 years ago). So, the peaks of the city, like the building in the squid, were places where I used to go for a walk or for adventure. The fact that it is in an abandoned building was important for me because there I felt that I was in my own field. I definitely wanted to show who I am to the rest of the team, which I did not know well then. I felt that I had to gain some respect, being a girl but also younger coming from the countryside. I think, if I did not deeply believe that it is a special group, and if I was not so happy that they wanted to do something together, I would not have done this piece there. But apart from the children and the role I wanted to play in the crew, Mytilene did not have a lot of big graffiti then (it neither had the squid nor that much graffiti then), it was my town, and I was excited to do something impressive. Also, this building has an imposing, industrial aesthetic that goes well with graffiti and shutters.


How dangerous was it to do? Have you ever found yourself in a difficult position when painting?

It was not very dangerous. The staircase on the side, on which you climb, was rusty but I had carefully climbed it several times before and I knew it was safe. The painting was done with poles and a roller, upside down from the roof. I did it lying face down, so I was not in danger of falling. I am generally careful when doing such activities. Also, we had once painted the roof of a swimming pool in Mytilene. A friend had suggested that we paint a 381 on the dome, so that those who arrive by boat can clearly see it, as a welcome. We went and did it, but without preparation and it turned out that the roof was all fiberglass … It was very tiring and then I had itching for 2 days …!


How do you feel when you see it after so many years? Have you ever heard others ask about it? When I pass under it, it winks at me, and I get the meaning. I am happy and I feel proud and nostalgic. It reminds me of the crew and the time I did it. It’s like scars, it tells me past stories and connects me to this place and the past I have with it. In Mytilene, where everything becomes public, I avoided saying much about my paintings and their locations. So, I do not know if people know who did this piece, or what thoughts they have about it … if they have. The only person who has told me about this roll is my mother. When I did it, she saw me quickly leave with half the paint left over from painting the house and I did not hide from her what I was going to do. She really liked it, she told me, “and the point, and the composition, and the color”. Some become doctors to make their mother happy, others get married … I did not have to go into so much trouble!


What does it mean to be a woman in the field of graffiti?

It means that you are a graffiti boy’s girlfriend…! Otherwise, you are an exception, and this indicates how male-dominated and -chauvinistic this sector is. As I was painting, I was feeling very much like I was considered to be “someone’s girl”, a groupie, a potential conquest, or weight. Of course, not all graffiti artists are male chauvinists, but graffiti culture is associated with very sexist motifs. In 381 there is a political consciousness, among other things, about the relationship between the sexes, and this can be seen in the fact that you/we suggested to girls to join the wider crew. But even there, as everywhere, we still have work to do to truly have equal boys and girls.


Are you participating in any activities now?

Personally, the actions I did, lately, were outside of 381 and they were not paintings. But I, definitely, kept the culture of “wild” informal action in public.


What would you say about what we live in now – in a time of pandemic?

Graffiti taught me to be bold and to exist illegally and creatively in public, and 381 taught me a nice way to combine “aesthetic” creation, vandalism, and politics.

I have a lot to say about the measures for the coronavirus!

Not to make your head spin, I would just say that whatever fear we must deal with on the street, the first repressive instrument we must overcome is one we carry within us and often has our own voice.

Rainbow with anti-fascist message on the Kalamaris building. Photography: Michalis Bakas


The third slogan “fascists out of every neighborhood” was made in 2016-2017 during the period of major anti-fascist demonstrations (May 2014-February 2017)[1],  which ended up forcing Golden Dawn to close its offices in Mytilene. The slogan is said to have been written together by a student from Greece and a student from Germany. Later, the slogan became emblematic in the anti-fascist demonstrations of 2020 (see post Xenophobia).


Οι γραφές Close Moria, Smash Fascism

From March to September 2020, the Moria camp and the surrounding olive grove remained closed (in the name of covid19) with very few exit permits for the approximately 20,000 refugees, including more than 8,000 children. A group of young people, Israr & Coline, are currently preparing a protest rap clip featuring the factory interior and the new slogans, paralleling a day at the camp with a day at a conventional European home (Papalo refugees talent team). . When you drink your morning coffee do not forget the queues in the mud of Moria … And here is Europe … CloseMoria. Later another group added: Crush Fascism. The wall, thus, wrote its own story.

Christy Petropoulou, Orestis Pangalos, December 2020


[2] Αντωνιάδης Η., 2007. Το Εργοστάσιο Καλαμάρη και η Επάνω Σκάλα Μυτιλήνης Στο : Μπελαβίλας (επιμέλεια). Το τέλος των γιγάντων. Βιομηχανική κληρονομιά και μετασχηματισμοί των πόλεων. Βόλος.Το_τέλος_των_γιγάντων._Βιομηχανική_κληρονομιά_και_μετασχηματισμοί_των_πόλεων._Βόλος_2007


[4] Petropoulou C., 2010. From December’s youth uprising to the rebirth of urban social movements. An attempt of a space-time approach. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Debates and Development section. Volume 34.1 March 2010 : 217–24

Petropoulou C., 2009. From the “untimely event” to the glocalisation of social movements: questionings about the relationship of recent Greek youth uprising with the urban and regional movements. 19ο Διεθνές συνέδριο του INURA : Urban Transformation. Capital / State / Civil society, 2009 Istanbul, 26 Ιουνίου– 3 Ιουλίου 2009.



Picture 1: Christy Petropoulou
Picture 2: from the music video Pantachou – Diamond ΙΙ 
Picture 3: Michalis Bakas   
Picture 4: Christy Petropoulou