Tag Archives: Street Art

Out of the Shadows

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TRAVELLING ART EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS URGENT NEED FOR REFORM OF IRELAND’S ABORTION LAWS

At least 10 women and girls each day travel to the UK to access abortion services.

Today, an innovative art project which highlights the harrowing journey experienced by women and girls forced to travel outside Ireland to access abortion services will visit Letterkenny. The project, which is led by artist and activist Will St Leger and supported by the Abortion Rights Campaign and Amnesty International Ireland, will visit six counties over its six day tour. The exhibition will also visit Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Meath and Dublin.

Every year, at least 4,000 women are forced to travel outside of Ireland to access abortion services. This refers to the number of women who give Irish addresses. The real figure, which doesn’t account for women travelling to other countries or purchasing abortion pills online, could be much higher. In Donegal alone, 67 women and girls have travelled to the UK for an abortion in 2015.

“Ireland’s abortion laws do not stop women and girls from having or needing abortions, it simply forces them to travel abroad. The law, which is one of the most restrictive in the world, disproportionally affects certain women and girls, including minors, survivors of sexual violence, asylum seekers, women with health problems or those who are otherwise unable to travel. Travelling abroad for abortion is expensive (costing at least €1,000) which further limits abortion to those who can afford to travel.” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland. 

“Women in rural areas face additional obstacles when travelling for an abortion, such as infrequent public transport and longer journeys. ARC regional groups have engaged with these communities to break down the culture of stigma, shame, and fear that has pervaded the issue of abortion for too long. This project will build on the progress made by Abortion Rights Campaign regional groups and other local and community groups. It will continue expanding the dialogue on the urgent need for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, “said Taryn Gleason, Abortion Rights Campaign Donegal spokesperson. 

Life-size silhouettes representing women will be placed in various locations across the country to visually symbolise the fact that, on average 10 women and girls are forced to leave Ireland every day to access abortion services aboard.

“Many women who travel to the UK for an abortion describe the journey as traumatic and upsetting. The Irish state and health service effectively turns its back on them, forcing them to bear the psychological, physical and financial burden alone. Women forced to travel feel sense of exclusion from their health care system, the stigma of traveling, and the burden of secrecy, shame and fear that comes with knowing they are doing something that is a criminal offence at home. This project is designed to bring these women out of the shadows so that we can stand in solidarity with them,” said artist and activist Will St Leger.

Ireland’s abortion laws creates a two-tiered system where some women can circumvent the law by travelling abroad for abortions, while others are forced to continue with a pregnancy or resort to illegal and often unsafe means of accessing abortion, including the use of abortifacient medication bought online. Though this medication is safe, it should be taken with medical supervision which Irish law prohibits.

The exhibition culminates in Dublin this weekend, which coincides with the next meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly.

“Ireland’s abortion laws causes serious human rights violations to women in Ireland every day. The Irish Government is under an immediate obligation to bring Irish law into compliance with international human rights law, which requires the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. It cannot abdicate that responsibility to the Citizens’ Assembly,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland. 

An independent Red C poll commissioned by Amnesty International in February 2016 found that 87% favour expanded access to abortion. 80% would vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, either outright or if reasonable restrictions were put in place. Of the 5% of people personally opposed to abortion in all circumstances, half would still vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment

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Snapped Up

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Over the past few years I’ve celebrated April’s Fools Day by doing a street art prank.  This year I want to do something different, so on the 1st of April 2016, I will be hiding 12 works of my art around Dublin city. Every hour I will reveal the location of each piece via a Snapchat story.

Your task is to find them before my other followers do, simply follow me on Snapchat before the 1st of April and check my Snapchat stories each hour from 8am till 8pm on Fools Day.

If you’re quick enough to find a piece of work, take a snapchat story of your prize (tag me in it @willsaint.)

Good luck!

*UPDATE*

From 8am today I placed my artwork work around various parts of Dublin. It was great fun and wonderful to get tweets from some of the happy hunters that found them. Thank you everyone that got involved!

Ce9sOLOWQAEdXgD

Ce8qAI-W8AA8Uwl

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.

SUNP0001
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.

CDTreasure
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.

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.

Irish Arts Review – Street Art

Image The latest edition of Irish Art Review features Irish street artists making their mark. Fittingly Conor Harrington‘s work (arguably Ireland’s No.1 street artist) adorns the front cover.  The article includes work and interviews with Maser, ADW, Rask and myself. Bravo to Irish Arts Review for recognising the role of street art in Ireland today.

There’s also a nice piece about my new sell out show ‘Cause & Effect’