Category Archives: Artivism

Collins Rising

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‘Collins Rising’  My new, limited edition screen print will be launched Thursday 10th March at Damn Fine Print – 31 signed and numbered prints only.

I’ve teamed up with Damn Fine Print  to produce an exclusive limited edition Screenprint of #CollinsRising // launch part Thursday 10th March at their studio in 32 North Brunswick Street Stoneybatter Dublin. To buy this limited edition print click here

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Origins to ‘Duty Free State’ (Collins Rising)

For God’s sake, give me one free night to be a human being!” –  exclaimed Michael Collins to his fellow rebels in the self titled,1996 film by Neil Jordan.  These words became the starting point for my original Collins stencil entitled, ‘Duty Free State’ ten years ago.

From his early twenties, Michael Collins was involved in the struggle for Irish independence. From fighting in the Easter Rising to the negotiations table at 10 Downing street 6 years later,  Collins dedicated his life to the dream of an Irish Republic.

While much has been written about his achievements, I often wondered about what this young Corkonian had to sacrifice to achieve these goals.  Ask any committed activist and they will tell you that their cause often comes a personal price. Committed volunteers like Collins never got leisure time,  bonuses, holidays or luxury goods. They dedicated their waking hours to defeating their oppressors so others could be set free.

Our little republic is not perfect, but we are not under the dominion of unelected monarchs, we have a constitution and we are free to utilize the tools of democracy,  freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly.  Liberty should never be considered a luxury, it is a fundamental human right.

If Michael had more time after the Civil war,  he might have travelled the world, he might have got married to his sweetheart, raised a family.  We might have spotted him striding down the street, shopping bags in hand after buying something nice for himself or his girlfriend.  My screen print,  ‘Duty Free State’ is an aspirational piece of work about a man who missed so much because he cared too much.

Because of men and women like Collins, I enjoy the freedom to satirize icons like Michael without fear of restriction or the threat of imprisonment and for that I’m grateful.

Michael Collins you deserve one free night off.

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Lindenfels ; Pearl of the Odenwald – Matchbox Project

Currently I’m in Lindenfels, Historically referred to as ‘The Pearl of the Odenwald”, Lindenfels lies in the Odenwald in southern Hesse and is nestled in a mountain landscape with a great deal of woodland.

I’m here with Matchbox Rhein-Neckar, to do a month long art residency with the local people. Here are some of the things I’ve done so far;

Part One ; St Josefsheim

St Josefsheim was a former recreation center of the Sisters of the Divine Savior, for the past 12 years it’s been empty, gathering dust, with no water and a leaky roof. But that didn’t deter me and one my first day the mayor of the city handed me the keys and I got to work.

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Before cleaning
Living Room
After cleaning
People
Feast of St Leger
Food
Feast of St Leger

After cleaning the place I invited the people of the town to come to the opening called “The Feast of St Leger’ – I asked them to bring homecooked food and old plates that I will create art with.

The event was a great success and a choir came along to sing. After dinner I let people wander through the rooms that I had especially created art in.

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Treasure Chest
ForestFace
Mural painted only with Washing powder under UV light

Part Two ; Story Teller

When people gave me old plate, I started to transfer photos I had took of the people of Lindenfels onto these plates using Acrylic Gel Medium;

Plates
Transferring the photos
Dish
Finished design

I’m getting some really good results, especially with the plate’s pattern coming through – in the next few days I will start to hang them in the town.

Walls of Equality

The forthcoming referendum on Marriage Equality will give the people of Ireland the opportunity to end discrimination against gays and lesbians who wish to marry.

In a pluralist, fair and modern society, legal unions between consenting adults should be protected by law equally, regardless of gender. Voters will be asked to amend Article 41 of the Constitution and approve the thirty-fourth amendment contained in the Marriage Equality Act 2015. The wording of the amendment will be: “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinctions to their sex.”

Being an artist and an activist I want to use my best skills to further the rights of minorities and bring about a better, brighter society for everyone to live in. Recently I’ve approached a number of business owners in Dublin with the prospect of allowing street artists in favour of Marriage Equality to paint murals on their sites. The feedback has been very positive and I would like to spread this idea nationwide. As it’s difficult to project manage each site I’m looking for artists and businesses to work together.

UPDATE:

10 artists took part in Walls of Equality, their work brighten up the city’s walls, it reinforced a positive message and acted as a counter weight to negative campaign messages coming from the Anti Equality groups.

Artsists: ADW, Sums, Rask,Niall O’Lochlainn, Morgan, Jess Tobin, Emma Blake, John O’Connor, Will St Leger

PantiBar Gallery Morgan Sums ADW NiallO

Coffee vs Gangs

KencoOver the past few weeks I’ve been working on a street art project for Kenco coffee. It’s based on Kenco’s new ad campaign Coffee vs Gangs  – Kenco buy their coffee beans from farmers in Honduras, but this beauiful South America country is murder capital of the world. With crime rates roaring due to gang violence, Kenco decided to get actively involved in trying to create another way for young people that are exposed to this on a daily basis.

Kenco are are taking 20 young people from diffeent backgrounds and bringing them into the coutryside to grow coffee, investing in them and giving them a new direction in life. I find this a brave move for a industry that has generally produced adverts that talk about the product’s ‘richness and smoothness’ but rarely focus on the poverty and roughness that the producers country experiences.

When I first saw the advert I was stuck by the contrast of imagery between the gang life and the warmth of the countryside, this became the basis for the street art pieces I painted in Dublinin early October this year. In my mural there’s a contrast between the dark soil, decay and death that refelects the gang life and what is above the ground, which is a colourful coffee plant with rich colours and sunshine.  We live in a world where buzz words like ‘Corporate Responsibilty’ are banded around without knowing what that means, but Kenco are doing something very different, they are getting involved, rolling their sleeves up and making a measureable difference. Follow the journey for these young people in Honduras by visiting www.coffeevsgang.com

 

Too Soon?

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I’ve never liked January. Even though I celebrate my birthday at the end of the month, January is the time of the year when reality comes crashing down after the festive season and everything seems a bit gloomy.

Which is why the folks behind First Fornight have been doing amazing work over the past few years to highlight mental health in Irish society through a dedicated arts Festival. This year I was invited to produced a street art piece for the festival which runs from Jan 2 – 12. The piece I made was about Facebook and our relationship with our ‘friends’ on social media.

In the early days of the internet we talked about how Web 2.0 was creating a ‘Global Village’. For most people access to information on the world wide web has dramatically changed how we interact. In the past decade I’ve seen the effects of overreliance on social media, I think maybe it’s turning us into, ‘Like’ zombies, ‘Retweet’ robots. More and more the need for cyber vailidation has pushed meaningiful dialogue into the background.

Among the clutered status upates, images of cute kittens and  exclaimtions that there are, “x amount of sleeps till…”  a single status by someone calling out for help can be lost. Even if seen, do we ‘like’ it and move on without checking in with them?

My piece is about a breakdown of Facebook. The ‘wall’ is broken and refusing to by tied to the generic status update, I’ve written by hand the lyric, “I am human and I need to be loved” taken from How Soon Is Now by The Smiths.

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Photo Credits: Aidan Kelly

Check out the full line up of Street Artists involved in First Fornight at the ‘Street Art Blog’

The absence of Irish women in Dublin’s memorials

On Wednesday morning I installed a pink spray painted female torso on an empty plinth outside Dublin City Hall. Why? Because when I walk around the streets of Dublin I see dozens of statues, memorials and plaques dedicated to the memory of men but very few of great Irish women.

Lets break down the figures:

Of the 54 statues and monuments listed on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statues_in_Dublin (not an exhaustive list by the way) only a handful are women and even at that, two of the most prominent statues are fictional characters, Molly Malone – Grafton Street and Anna Livia (formerly on O’Connell Street). That leaves us with Constance Markievicz – Statue in Tara Street (Bust in St Stephen’s Green), “Two Women” – Lower Liffey Street, Lady Laura Grattan Font – St Stephen’s Green North, An Cailín Bán – Sandymount Strand and Queen Victoria Fountain – Dún Laoghaire (That’s right, a bust of a British Monarch)

Now let’s look at Plaques:

According to Open Plaques (a project to collect & open up data about plaques and people they commemorate) 64 Dublin plaques  are dedicated to men,  5 are to (named) women.

Finally, let’s look at Dublin’s bridges:

As my fellow blogger, Panti has pointed out; “Currently there are seventeen bridges between the East Link and Heuston, and all seventeen are named after men. Not one of them is named after a woman”

Also, I have another question, of all the sculptors and designers of these memorials how many were female artists?

Food for thought.