“It was pretty much in ruins when we started the project,” said Ernesto Fernández Rey. “The walls were stained, paint was peeling and there was dust everywhere.” Built in 1912, the church of Santa Barbara was once a focal point for the workers at a nearby munitions factory but when it shut down at the end of the Spanish civil war, the church fell into disuse.

Fernández Rey decided to use it to feed his love of skateboarding. Calling themselves the Church Brigade, he and his friends formed an association to collect money and build a ramp. As their funds grew, they poured the proceeds into expanding the skatepark. Word soon began to spread about the project. After the Madrid street artist Okuda San Miguel stumbled across a photo online showing the group skateboarding in the church, he approached them to ask if he could paint murals in the space. San Miguel took care of raising funds for the project, setting up a crowdfunding space and recruiting corporate sponsors. “It’s like my personal Sistine chapel,” he said.

All Rights Reserved to the Church Brigade

Images by Lucho Vidales

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