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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018
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Famous graffiti wall behind Bernard Shaw pub to be demolished to make way for 260-flat complex

A Dublin street artist has suggested preserving the wall in some way, by assigning another one nearby for artists’ use.

DSC_1620 The walkway has already been bordered off from the public. Source: Gráinne Ní Aodha

PART OF A famous Dublin walkway where Irish and international graffiti artists practised their craft is being demolished as part of a long-awaited redevelopment of a block of flats.

The redevelopment of the Tom Kelly flats, located on Charlemont Street in the heart of Dublin City, was first proposed in the 1990s.

The plan involves the building of five buildings ranging from four to eight storeys high. These will include 260 apartments, childcare services, a café, a restaurant, a six-screen cinema and other retail spaces.

The economic downturn stalled the progression of the works, but at the end of last year the last remaining residents were moved to temporary accommodation to allow construction to begin on the five-acre site.

It’s predicted that 79 social housing units will be ready for occupation this year.

As part of that delayed construction plan, a well-known graffiti haunt, is to lose one of its concrete canvases that loops around the back of the Bernard Shaw pub.

Screenshot 2018-02-13 at 23.41.19 A section of the wall that's to be demolished. Source: Google Maps

“It’s a massive shame to be honest with you,” Dublin street artist Vents_Dublin who told TheJournal.ie about the history of the Richmond Street area, nicknamed as “the hall of fame” and the importance of it to Irish street artists.

He has asked whether it would be possible for Dublin City Council to commemorate the wall somehow by providing another space where artists can use to continue their work.

I’d imagine with all the planning that’s gone into this development, there could be some way of commemorating the wall so that its legacy can continue.

History behind it

DSC_1623 Other sections of the Richmond Street walkway. Source: Gráinne Ní Aodha

Vents estimates that the Bernard Shaw walkway has been used for ten or twelve years.

“I started using it in 2008, and it was kind of one of those spaces where I spent all my time at – I practically grew up at that wall. And that was the way it was for a lot of us who used that wall.

“I’ve painted next to Maser [the artist behind the blue Repeal wall] around 10 – 20 times. He’s a good friend of mine that I wouldn’t have known him otherwise if it wasn’t for that place.”

He said the wall has been used by so many international artists over the years, such as Australian artist Sofles and Dublin artist James Earley.

As part of an event in the Tivoli Theatre in Francis Street, at least five international artists are brought in every year in Dublin to create murals, but spread out to more “local” areas, he explains.

Ireland’s graffiti culture has had so many amazing world-class artists paint in that lane way over the years… People come from all over the world just to see the work those artists create.

Last month, An Bord Pleanála ordered a developer to preserve the graffiti work at the Tivoli Theatre by photographic record before commencing construction.

A five-storey, 289-bed ‘aparthotel’ is planned for the space, meaning the destruction of the walls where the graffiti is present at the site.

DSC_1622 Another part of the lane way behind the Bernard Shaw. Source: Gráinne Ní Aodha

Vents said that the unique part about the Bernard Shaw lane way is the side behind the pub where several years ago, the more advanced artists used to put on a bit of a display for the younger artists.

“There were always other spaces like it, but I think each one had its own individual identity. There used to be Windmill Lane, where the old recording studio used to be.

So when we were younger the older generation would paint of the inside of the pub and we’d come in and sit down and we’d watch for hours.

They, having watched how it’s done, then spray painted to the lane way that’s about to be demolished.

“It was a great place for camaraderie and to meet new people and experience new things. It was great, and I’m thoroughly disappointed that it’s being demolished.”

A statement from Dublin City Council said:

“Dublin City Council has trialled the concept of legal walls for street art and is open to proposals.  Previously consent /permissions have been withdrawn due to additional tagging of the general area and antisocial behaviour. Painting late  at night etc.

“The implementation of a legal wall would require permission of the owner, consent of the council, consultation with local businesses and residents. They are normally curated or managed by a Street Artist within guidelines and are painted out once a year.

“They are prohibited from having commercial content or any content which may be considered discriminatory. Each is case specific, due to location and access required as well as health and safety.”

Read: Dublin’s Tivoli Theatre will be knocked for a hotel – once the developer preserves its graffiti

Read: Three 1830s houses demolished at Dublin’s Five Lamps to make way for social housing

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