Is graffiti in Dublin just vulgar vandalism or can it be considered a true art? As Hannah Lemass finds, the writing is on the wall for the old stigma tagged on street art
Dublin City Council spends hundreds of thousands every year cleaning up graffiti.
It is no secret that tagging is ugly and destructive but what about the pieces of street art that are undeniable works of beauty?
Dublin may not be one of the biggest cities in the world but Irish artists are producing masterpieces that easily rival what one might see in some of the world’s graffiti capitals such as New York, London, Berlin or Mexico city.
I took a stroll around our fair city to see what works of urban art I could find.
The Camden mile is arguably the hippest area in Dublin’s city centre.
Tucked away behind the famed music venue Whelan’s, is Liberty Lane. It is a narrow twisting street connecting Camden Row and Kevin Street stuffed full of vibrant street art by various artists.
Art work by Various artist on Liberty Lane Dublin, image by Hannah Lemass
One of the most famous spots in Dublin to see some exceptional pieces of street art is the Bernard Shaw pub and it’s surrounding laneways.
Construction site hoarding has become a popular canvas for street artists. The hoarding surrounding construction at Kevin Street Garda station has been decorated with striking nature and water imagery by the artist Marcin ‘Zap‘ Zapedowski.
Zap got permission to make his mark on the hoarding after approaching the owners.
When the new station opens and the hoarding is taken down, Zap plans to relocate the artwork to an open space for the local community to continue to enjoy.
Closed for Business
Shop shutters are also being turned into works of art. They serve as clever after hours advertisements while deterring would-be vandals and delighting passers-by with the unexpected.
Graffiti is often used as a political statement. In Ireland, we have seen graffiti works in support of the marriage equality referendum and the repeal the 8th movement.
A mural mocking President Trump appeared in Temple Bar following the president’s inauguration in January.
The caricature shows trump as a portly Captain America with a Klu Klux Klan-style hat.
A speech bubble reading “Free Flights to Shannon” appears to have been added by a second person, an interesting example of ‘vandalism’ on ‘vandalism’.
Mysterious faceless graphic bees began popping up around Dublin in 2015. They are concentrated mostly in Dublin 6 but have been swarming towards the city centre.
This is an example of graffiti that is not only a cheerful piece of art but is almost like a familiar little friend.
These little bees certainly add a charming quirk to the city center.
Government approved Graffiti
Love The Lanes is a joint initiative between Dublin City Council and the Temple Bar Company launched in March 2014, to rejuvenate laneways that have fallen into disuse.
Another initiative supported by Dubin City Council is the traffic light boxes art project.
Temple Bar is the hub of Dublin’s graffiti scene. Countless bold and colourful murals decorate the cobbled streets and laneways of Dublin’s cultural quarter.
A lesser known treasure trove of graffiti art is the Tivoli Theater car park on Francis Street. All sides of the car park are covered in some of the best examples of Irish street art.
Graffiti collection in the Tivoli theater carpark off Francis street in Dublin, images by Hannah Lemass
In this fair city, we have the opportunity to admire some exceptional pieces of street art but we are blessed that we can also enjoy more traditional fine art at no cost.
After experiencing both ends of the artistic gamut, you will find that not much separates the traditional arts from street art. Both require skill, technique, and vision.
The real difference is on what side of the wall the art is displayed.
Featured image by Hannah Lemass