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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Sketches from Tirana, Albanian Rainbows & Mosquitoes

Updated: Jul 1

Before I arrived, my Albanian friend described Tirana (where he currently lives) as a "shit hole" - whilst respecting his opinion as a local, I think he was being somewhat uncharitable and I enjoyed my visit to the capital city.

The day after I arrived, I decided to run around the (romantically named) 'Artificial Lake of Tirana' and discovered a really beautiful park which also included a ceramic rainbow.

My friend called me whilst I was admiring the rainbow and invited me to coffee at a café in the park, surrounded by trees - it was really a lovely place to be and the weather was beautifully sunny. I enjoy the hot weather (I really hate the cold) but the mosquitoes are a bit of an issue for me - as they seem to love munching on me and I am slightly allergic. 

I knew it was going to be bad, so I brought repellent, antihistamines and Hydrocortisone cream - but the mosquitoes here are brutal. They also seem capable of organising military grade attacks in equally spaced straight lines, like the insect equivalent of the Red Arrows.

When I wasn't hanging out with my friend and his friends, I spent most of the time wandering around taking photographs of the city and making sketches of the architecture. There was quite a lot of street art to see, I particularly enjoyed this flowery tank...

Gallery of Contemporary Art, Tirana - Solo Exhibition. by Driant Zeneli 'Those Who Tried to Put the Rainbow Back in the Sky'

Obviously, I was excited to see another Albanian rainbow artwork - but the exhibition particularly capitvated me because some of the themes related to abusive relationships and dictatorships - a topic that is currently of interest to me.

The artist used animal characters in order to communicate narratives about relationships. There were two series of drawings, as well as a motorised sculpture which moved every so often.

'The Dragonfly and the Octopus'

'tells the story of a dragonfly that, despite being able to move its wings, is condemned never to fly, thus failing to get away from the ocean. The dragonfly... recalls the real experience of Rilong Risto, who spent 21 years of isolation in Albanian prisons, creating mechanical insects capable of flying from variouscircumstantial tools duing his last period of imprisonment.'

The art gallery is located in 'the Pyramid of Tirana, a memorial monument to the Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha built in the late 1980s.' The artist is exploring this imagery 'as a metaphor for the perennial man's attempt to detach himself from a context imposed by society.'

The Pyramid of Tirana has some great views from the top - and is surrounded by these colourful geo-metric animal sculptures

Tirana wins the prize for the biggest flag - I find the double headed eagle motif a bit disturbing. It strikes me as a particularly macho flag design.


I managed to forget my watercolour paint travel set, so I had to buy a new set whilst I was in Tirana. I'm quite fussy about the quality of the watercolour paints I use, but these were surprisingly good and a great range of colours for only 1700 Leke (about £17).

Entrance to the Bunk Art Exhibiiton.

One of the many mosques - view from the Pyramid on a thunder stormy day.

A church bell tower.

Haven't figured out which buiding this is.

An oddly shaped sky scraper.

The Artificial Lake of Tirana.

‘Tyrbja e Kapllan Pashës’ - ruins.

A building currently under construction.

Archway at Tirana Castle.

Ramshackle wall / shed.

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01 июл.

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