A splash of color in a rather difficult period.
"There is beauty in every corner of Bucharest, waiting for us to pay more attention to it" says the first post on a web page entitled "Map of magnolias". The name seems provocative from the start, as there are hundreds of pictures of magnolias there, one more beautiful than the other.
Diana Robu, aged 32, told us more about the project: “The initial idea was to make such a smaller project, a map with 500 magnolias of all colors, from purple and pink to white and yellow. It started more like a game, for me and my friends, because I wanted to somehow make up for what I lost last spring. And I really wanted to enjoy the magnolias, because they are the first to announce spring. This contrast, between the gray areas that can still be found in Bucharest and the magnolias in bloom, before the trees turn green, is very nice. I wanted to enjoy spring, something that I could not do last year, and I initially made a map for myself, to make it easier to find them. I put 10-20 points on the map with the famous magnolias that I already knew in Bucharest and I said that I would take a walk to see all of them. But on the way to each magnolia I found 10 or 20 more. I didn't even know there are so many magnolias in Bucharest. And so the map began to be filled with purple hearts."
Diana Robu tells us what she expected to find on her journey: “I set off without any expectations, I just wanted to enjoy the city a little, the quiet streets, I allowed myself to get lost, to discover or rediscover alleys in Bucharest, neighborhoods of old houses, places where I have never been before. I did not have many expectations, instead I discovered a lot of things, because the map of magnolias was not necessarily about flowers, it was about the fact that there is beauty at every step, there is color, there are many magnolias, in the yard, near the blocks, and people enjoy the flowers.
What impressed me a lot was the reaction of the people, because I learned a lot of stories. People were happy to receive me in their yards, to share their stories with me. In the May 1st area, there was a gentleman who let me photograph the magnolia in his yard, and put it on the map. He was a unique presence in Bucharest: he was dressed like Charlie Chaplin and he invited me to visit his shop, which was in fact a very beautiful museum of antiquities. I had no idea you can find such things in Bucharest. I spent about an hour there, we talked about all the sculptures and paintings he had, he told me about his wife, who is an ICU nurse, and has been in the front line during this pandemic period. He kept the shop open during this period, even if people did not visit it much. He wanted to feel that he was doing something and to live his life as close to normal as possible. ”
Life stories, city stories, magnolia stories. These are the main ingredients of this project, the magnolia map. Diana Robu: “Right at the beginning of April I started walking through Bucharest. I had started the map for myself, at the end of March, and in April I began to walk the streets and discover the magnolias in Bucharest. There are 500 pins. The last two weeks have been pretty intense, because I wanted to reach 500 pins, not necessarily for this spring, because their season is already coming to an end, but I wanted to also have the map for next spring. I wish I had it in early spring, to be easier to navigate. The map includes 500 magnolias, but that is thanks to everyone who wrote to me. It became a collaborative project; people sent me photos of the magnolias they saw on their way to work or during their walks. And thanks to the people who got involved, the map reached 500 magnolias. ”
The number of magnolias seemed bigger this year. Diana Robu: “I love especially little magnolias. In Bucharest we also have magnolias that are more than 100 years old and even protected magnolias. I like small magnolias the most, especially those near the blocks of flats. A purple spot in a sea of concrete shows that people really want to make the place they live in more beautiful and take care of that little piece of land in front of the block. ”
Since Diana's posts went viral, more and more people began to announce what magnolias they had found and where. Diana Robu: “The feedback was overwhelming at one point. I never imagined that it would have such a magnitude, especially since we are coming after a difficult period, which has affected us all and people need to disconnect and think of something else: a splash of color in a pretty gray period! ”