Ene Keenan

Urban art as a 'force for good' on Thomas St

The street art project by Urban Evolve will see up to 15 artists working to transform parts of the historic street.

AN URBAN ART project will see parts of Dublin’s Thomas St area undergoing a colourful makeover.

Thomas St is one of the oldest and most historic parts of the capital. Now, a large urban art project being run as part of a regeneration scheme in the area will see artists bringing their unique images to the street’s buildings, walls and other prominent spaces.

Thomas ‘Street Fest’

Thomas ‘Street Fest’ involves the work of Evolve Urban Art, which was set up at the beginning of 2013. Ene Keenan, who founded Evolve Urban Art, said the fest “is a first for the city in terms of urban art” and also for  regeneration projects using art in this way.

The project will involve murals and works of all difference sizes envisioned by artists from around the country. Around 10 – 15 art pieces will be created “as a positive disruption to the trend on the street of un-occupancy and other issues, and to add to an already historic street in a positive way”, said Keenan.

The main part of the project will take place from 19 – 21 July,  during the Liberties festival.

Jess Tobin – Thiago Ritual. Pic: Ene Keenan

Evolve is partnering with the Thomas Street Business Association – which commissioned their work – as part of its 90 day regeneration project, and is also consulting with local business people and community groups along the way.

“We believe urban art is a force for good in the fabric of Dublin city. We will be painting what we believe is a Dublin first, taking a wonderful historic street and adding to it in a small way with art pieces the length of the street,” said Keenan.

We started Evolve 7 months ago and this is the biggest project we have undertaken in terms of scale and scope. Both because we are going to do a large amount of pieces on the street and also tying directly in with the community.

Keenan emphasised that the pieces will provide focal points for people on the street to experience art outdoors.

He said the artists are “some of the best artists who we’ve worked with, and some we haven’t worked with also – we’re really happy to have all of them involved and really happy to use the space”.

A piece by Anna Doran. Pic: Ene Keenan

Evolve have opened a discourse about what sort of pieces they are working on with the local community, so that there is discussion and trading of ideas along the way.

“In a simple way it’s positive nice pieces of art on the street for people to experience, whether people on the street, locals, or tourists,” he said.

We’re really happy to be able to help and put the time into the street. It’s a nice partnership to be able to do and it’s something that we’d like to do more.

There are a number of pieces already in situ, with more being created in the lead-up to the Liberties Festival. The work is being done in stages, so as to allow more conversation with the Business Association and locals.

When the artists were working on these pieces, they got a “great reaction from people walking by”, with the artists ending up “talking to people living locally; talking to tourists; talking to everyone”. They even got thumbs up and beeps from passing cars, said Keenan.

It had, said Keenan, “a real positive feel”.

They are delighted with the hospitality from local businesses, such as Baker’s Pub, the Food Gallery Gafe, Thomas House and Chadwicks. Sites that have benefited from art so far include Chadwick’s, A4 Art and the Simon Community. Equipment has even been supplied by local store A4 Art Shop for spray paint and Planconbuild Cabra.

Read: Meet some of the people helping to transform city streets>

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