Retake Roma cleans up the city

American artist Finley involved in campaign

Graffiti has been removed from about 500 metres of walls around Piazza Annibaliano in the north-east Nomentana district by Retake Roma, the movement whose Italian and international volunteers work together to keep the capital tidy.

As part of the initiative a dumpster was decorated by Finley, an American artist based between Rome and the US.

Finley enlivened the bin with red and gold floral wallpaper to help Retake Roma in its bid to raise awareness against graffiti and urban degeneration. Known internationally for her "wallpapered dumpsters" campaign, Finley says the project is designed to “transform environmental activism into unexpected beauty.”

The artist told Wanted in Rome that the project began initially during her time working as a decorator and scenic painter on Los Angeles film sets. Using the left-over wallpaper from various shoots she first covered a goods container at Los Angeles port as part of an art installation. She then wallpapered a friend's studio dumpster, leading to a series of similar projects in New York, Paris, Vienna, Rome, Berlin and Dublin.

Finley will be wallpapering another couple of dumpsters on Saturday 10 May outside the city's Umberto I hospital while the following Retake Roma event involves cleaning the Ostia Antica train station on Friday 23 May.

Retake Roma began in 2009 when a group of mostly American and Italian women decided to remove the graffiti from their neighbourhood, and were soon joined by a host of volunteers. Operating under the auspices of the Foundation Giuseppe Garibaldi and in partnership with the city administration, the grass-roots, non-profit group works to “retake” parts of Rome and organises regular clean-ups across the city.

The group was recently joined by US ambassador John R. Phillips and Rome mayor Ignazio Marino as it “retook” the area of the river Tiber near Ponte Risorgimento.

For more details see Retake Roma website.