The gable end of South Terrace is alive with shapes, layers and the image of a Cork hurler. The newly-plastered outer walls of Harley Street pop to life with colour, while the Kino venue on Washington Street, no stranger to large-scale art in itself, once more bears the signs of a work in progress along its long, street-facing front wall.
Ardú, a street-art initiative organised by Cork mural specialists and featuring new work from a variety of Irish artists in the genre, aims to embrace the changes that have had to happen since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis regarding the public relationship with visual art, and how the medium can be appreciated at a time when filing past exhibits in a museum or exhibition space comes with limitations, even when it can happen. Running from now until late December, Ardú sees Maser, Shane O’Driscoll, Deirdre Breen, Peter Martin, James Earley, Aches, and Garreth Joyce converge on the city and bring their visions to different parts of the city, providing new perspectives on locations on Harley’s Street, Wandesford Quay, Washington Street, Anglesea Street, Liberty Street, Kyle Street, and Henry Street.
For co-organiser Paul Gleeson, the idea had been bandied about among a circle of frequent collaborators even before the lockdown, but as circumstances dictated, their work would become essential to a co-ordinated artistic response to ongoing restrictions, that included City Council co-operation and funding from Creative Ireland’s stimulus fund.
“We have all been involved in public art and the mural scene in Cork for years, but all from different backgrounds and approaches.
Approaching work for an initiative like this was a task that surely warranted the care that’s gone into it, from looking at locations in the city and the benefit to be had from public art in their areas, to generating ideas and helping artists realise their vision. Muralist and co-organiser Shane O’Driscoll talks us through the steps taken to co-ordinate and bring life to the project.“We had to put together a list of walls we felt would work best with location, accessibility and also have them spread throughout the city.
“It’s really important when picking locations that the piece will actually fit into the area and compliment it,” says Gleeson. “A lot of thought went into making sure that anything we added to an area wouldn’t take from its cultural heritage or overwhelm the street. I think the most important thing about public art is how the public actually experiences it and for us, this was what we considered when picking locations. How would the piece look when you happen upon it? What kind of views of the piece are there? Are there nice pedestrian pathways that lead to the piece? Does it sit naturally along an area of footfall?”
“In terms of physically designing the artwork, selecting the wall and designing the piece to fit the wall and the area is probably the most important part of the process. The rising and fall of the River Lee is also something that
Adds Gleeson: “We always knew from our own experiences that the public in Cork were supportive and open-minded about murals and new art in the city, but the reaction to Ardú has been really communal. The same people are coming by each day to see updates, have a chat and even buy the artists a coffee as a thank you… it really justifies our whole idea behind this.
“At a time where there is so much negativity in the news and general day to day, this serves as an escape, and an opportunity to spark life and hope into people’s enjoyment of their own streets. The most rewarding thing I have seen in the past week of this festival has been watching children with their parents react at the sheer scale of the pieces and asking their parents questions. Each of these walls shows these children that they shouldn’t see boundaries to creativity, to think big and embrace their creative side.”
“On a purely commercial or financial point, I think these works are a hugely positive addition to the city for its traders and businesses. People will come in to see them and also walk new streets they normally wouldn’t and when that happens people will discover new shops, cafe’s etc along the way.
”The painting of Ardú murals runs for the rest of the month around the city, with select pieces being completed in December, with all art being permanently installed for public viewing.
- For full details visit www.corkcity.ie/ardu.