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Street art in Temple Bar, Dublin
Street art in Temple Bar, Dublin
Image: infomatique

A secret tour of Irish street art... from a graffiti artist's perspective

We asked art collective Subset for the names – and pieces – to look out for on the Irish street art scene.
Jan 10th 2018, 3:43 PM 12,677 6

OVER THE PAST number of years, Ireland’s street art scene has come on leaps and bounds. An art form that was once frowned upon has now been warmly embraced by the masses: we now live in an era of street art festivals and Stormzy murals.

Among those at the vanguard of the movement are Subset, a street art collective responsible for the aforementioned Stormzy mural in Smithfield.

Over the last twelve months, the collective has painted several murals and erected multiple installations across the city. Their commercial clients have included Brown Thomas, Teeling Whiskey, and Rascals Brewing Company, as well as several independent businesses across Dublin.

Their biggest claim to fame, however, is the much-loved Stormzy mural, which went viral last year and was even visited by the man himself.

The Council Strikes Again... - #dublincity #culture #stormzy

A post shared by SUBSET (@subsetdublin) on

The collective later found themselves embroiled in a dispute with Dublin City Council, who charged that the group did to have planning permission for the mural and later painted over it.

This plaque has since been erected at the site:

rgey

Despite the obstacles they have encountered, the group says that outdoor artwork, a term which encompasses both street art and graffiti, has gone from “strength to strength” in Ireland over the last five to ten years.

“The standard of the output and the quality of the concepts is continuously evolving and improving,” the group said in response to an e-mail query. “For a relatively small community of artists we are slowly but surely making a global name for ourselves and our country.”

They say that artists are now more empowered to create art, but say that can be attributed to their own “individual passion and graft” and point to a lack of meaningful supports for artists working in the medium.

There is very little in terms of suitable support, education and general appreciation for the progression of this medium. Artists such as Rask, Sums, Sek2 and Maser, to name but a few, are largely responsible for spurring on the scene and its growth.

They describe large format artwork as an “essential element of the outdoor environment within the majority of cities” and state that supports should be provided for artists.

“We could write a full paper on this topic but simply put we believe the provision of a variety of outdoor platforms, for the expression of our creatives, is imperative to the evolution of our nation,” they say. “We would equate this, at a bare minimum, to providing an athlete with a pitch, a boat with an ocean or a Guinness with a pint glass.”

If such supports are provided, the group reckons Ireland could become a world leader in street art.

There is an incredibly long road ahead to but hopefully we can continue to make waves and pave the way for our future creatives. Ireland has the potential to be a cultural juggernaut within three years.

With all this in mind, we asked Subset to point to some artists working in Ireland today that punters ought to know about. They say that each of the artists are “pushing boundaries in their own right and progressing artistic culture in Ireland”.

Without further ado…

Dan Leo

danleo Source: Dan Leo/Instagram

Dan Leo is a digital artist known for his murals and illustrations. Inspired by cartoons of the late 80s and early 90s, his pieces usually depict brightly coloured animals. His work can be seen across Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny and Waterford, among many others.

Check out this lovely mural he did for Barretstown.

Or this falcon on the Waterford Greenway.

James Earley

James Earley is a Dublin-based artist who has been producing public artworks since 1997. He was active in the Irish graffiti movement before developing a style inspired by his family’s history in stained glass art.

In 2014, he painted the exterior of Blooms Hotel in Temple Bar. It remains the largest public artwork in Ireland.

He has since produced works for Waterford Walls, Clonmel Junction Fest, and The Gibson Hotel, among many others.

And, yes, he still dabbles in graffiti from time to time.

Le Bas

Le Bas is an artist who specialises in abstract works that are inspired by his background in architecture and graffiti. Over the past few years, he has produced works for upmarket clients like Heineken, Bank of Ireland, and Adidas. Additionally, he was commissioned to produce murals for Facebook’s offices in Dublin and London.

His outdoor pieces inject much-needed life and vitality into otherwise drab landscapes.

Rask

RASK is a founding member of TDA Klann, an Irish graffiti crew that has been on the go since 1991, who specialises in bold, old-school pieces. A veteran of the game, he doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of relenting any time soon. His recent Instagram posts show pieces in Dublin, Drogheda, Basel and Barcelona.

Keep it up, RASK.

Maser

The old school house at The Convent of Mercy, Westport, Co.Mayo, Ireland. A note from Margret Duffy. A volunteer who was once a student there came to leave her mark on the building. "The Convent building in Westport has been in a dilapidated state for some time, so without attention being drawn to it, there will be nothing left to remember! As a past pupil of the school, I chose to participate in painting the mural as an act of remembrance to the many women and children who passed through the buildings of The Convent in joyous and not so joyous circumstances . I found you to be very sensitive to the many stories you heard throughout your six days working on the project. Thank you for remembering the former residents of the orphanage with the inclusion of a yellow ribbon in your otherwise neutral, abstract design." I hope the mural acts as a catalyst for positive and productive dialogue around the future development of The Convent site and preservation of the many complexities of the buildings' history. Thank you to Westport Arts Festival for having me down and all the locals for making us feel so welcomed. #maserart 🇮🇪

A post shared by M A S E R (@maserart) on

Work in progress #maserart

A post shared by M A S E R (@maserart) on

Maser is arguably the most renowned street artist in Ireland. Known for his brightly coloured murals, he’s done everything from paint a mural in honour of Seamus Heaney (“Don’t Be Afraid”) to transform an old schoolhouse in Westport (see above).

Outside of Ireland, he has painted walls across Europe and the United States, and even collaborated with U2.

Ireland would be a duller place without him.

#UAreAlive #maserart

A post shared by M A S E R (@maserart) on

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Amy O'Connor

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