As the annual Waterford Walls festival gets under way today, Richard Fitzpatrick chats to some of the artists involved about their previous work and plans for their allotted sites in the city.
Curtis Hylton’s previous work includes the kingfisher mural he painted recently off Paul Street in Cork.
“I’ve been painting for about 10 years. I discovered spray painting when I was a teenager. It changed my life. Everything else went out the window. Spray painting became the main fun thing to do. I started off as a graffiti artist, being a little terror. I decided to take it a little bit more seriously.
Over the last two or three years I’ve focused my work highlighting environmental issues. It’s been a strong governing part of my work since.
The wall I will do is governed by a painting I did a few years ago. It’s based on nostalgic memories of me rock-pooling on summer holidays. Fun times going down to the sea with my brother and my mum, spending the day messing around in rock pools. It will have a small child in the corner looking up at these sea creatures, in awe at the scene in front of him. Colour-wise it will be pretty crazy, as I’ll be using vibrant colours. It should be quite pleasant.”
Garreth Joyce’s work includes the mural above, situated in the Huguenot Quarter of his native Cork.
“I’m quite methodical. I plan the work. I’d have all the colours worked out. I use a lot of stencils. I make the artwork on a computer exactly how it’s going to look.
Then I prepare it all, cutting everything out. Then I get to the wall and paint it up. The work I do is kind of like a collage style. I like to have a lot of things going on, different visual ideas bumping up against each other.
“With this one, I wanted it to be something related to Waterford. On the Waterford crest, there’s a bit of Latin that says, “Urbs Intacta Manet Waterfordia”.
It means: “Waterford remains the untaken city”. I delved into it a bit more and it pretty much says that Oliver Cromwell never took Waterford so I’m playing with that idea. Instead of having a literal depiction of Cromwell, Waterford and the battle, I’ve gone with these metaphors, using a woman in the foreground, who is Waterford, and she’s stroking this octopus — who is representative of Cromwell and the British Empire and its colonising tentacles — like she’s tamed him.
“I’m a stencil street artist. For me, it’s all about colour — bright, bold, brash-y colours. You can tell mine a mile away. And my work is really feminine as well.
You’d walk by and go: ‘A woman definitely did that’.” They’re very girlie colours — pastels and gold. I would have done Love Lane in Dublin’s Temple Bar for example.
“I’ve been going down to Waterford Walls for the last four years. I’ll cut out different shapes and I’ll spray paint over them. I always do lots of colourful, geometric patterns every year.
"One year, I did a peacock. This year, I’m doing a 12-metre long wall of lots of different geometric patterns.
“The one thing about Waterford Walls is that festival founder Edel Tobin allows artists to do whatever they want. Artists love going down there because you’re given a massive space to play around with your ideas. Artists also love it because it’s our yearly meet-up. We’ll get to see each other and share ideas.”
“I’m a printmaker and visual artist. In the last two years, I started painting murals. Growing up, I was always a fan of street art because it’s so visible. It’s in the public eye. You can’t miss it. That splash of colour can totally transform a street. When I was in Waterford last year, people would stop by and have a chat. You can see the reaction that it has within them.
Over the last few years, my work has been very structured. It’s getting looser now. This year, I’ll do one of my abstract pieces. The guys designate a spot. They send us a picture of the wall, and then it’s up to us how we interpret it. I’m familiar with the spot. There’s a series of walls side by side. You don’t know who’s going to be beside you on the day. You just rock up and do your thing. When you get the picture, it’s just a grey wall. The challenge is to bring energy to it, and make people stop and appreciate it.”
“When I do some street art that’s my own I call the character Spacer. They’re usually astronaut paintings that relate to space, science and technology. So I’ll be doing a Spacer painting in Waterford.
It’ll be similar to the one I did last month in Cork’s Cornmarket Centre that marked the 50th anniversary of the moon landing (pictured above).
This year, I have a gable end of a house. I’ve given them three ideas. I have a favourite, which I’ve stressed, but if the person in the house doesn’t like the image, there is another two options. It has to be liked by the person in the house.
Street art is a very different release. I found it very difficult when I was a painter to make a load of canvases, store the canvases, bring the canvases to an exhibition, sell the exhibition.
Even to book the exhibition place takes months, but with street art, you go up, paint the wall and you leave. It’s a really free expression. It’s fast. It’s fun, and it’s nice when the weather is good.”
“I started doing large-scale murals — getting into walls and using spray paint — nearly two and a half years ago. The Repeal the 8th movement made a lot of people more politically active. Doing murals was one way I felt I could do something. It’s really fun. It’s very immediate and the colours are great. It dries really fast, but it’s so hard — it’s like painting with a wheelbarrow. It takes a lot of practice.
I do typographic pieces mostly, either words or phrases like last year for Waterford Walls I did the Viking word for Waterford which is Vedrarfjordr.
I’m interested in language and how we use it, and letter forms and typography.
Illustrated typography is kind of like text and image together. It works on two levels. It’s the meaning of words and how it’s drawn. If, say, you use a really hard-line sans serif typeface you’ll get a different feeling for the same word that’s written in a script cursive. I like that play between image and meaning.
This year what I’m doing is not site specific. It’s like a lyrical song; it’s not related.