Gloomy gable ends and scruffy shopfronts are among 24 sites in Waterford’s city centre scheduled for a spectacular makeover in the next few days.
From tomorrow until the weekend cherry pickers, ladders and scaffolding will be the ‘office’ for professional street artists and graffiti writers as the historic port city presents a festival with a difference.
Buildings and walled areas that could have done with more than a lick of paint will be transformed into aesthetically pleasing sites as local, national, and international artists, with lots of ‘street art cred’ globally, demonstrate their crafts in a live, open-air, gallery.
Louise Flynn, a city centre tattoo artist, who also has a flair for street art, is the curator for this weekend’s Waterford Walls festival. Having participated in a Miami city event last year, she said the Waterford project will be a visual and creative spectacle for locals and tourists, especially children and art enthusiasts.
Street art, she said, has massive appeal and the artists selected for the Waterford project will bring their own unique and beautiful creations to rejuvenate formerly forlorn and unused spaces in the city.
One of a small team of organisers, Ms Flynn said she had the honour of choosing the artists for the selected sites, many of which are publicly owned.
“I saw all the advance sketches and they are spectacular, just absolutely amazing,” she says. “We know exactly what every artist will be painting — the designs are unique, very vibrant colours, appealing scenes with a good mixture of different styles.”
The locations are site-specific and range from full-scale gable end walls to shopfronts. An art trail is part of the weekend package of events and the sites include New St, running into Newgate St, Stephen St, Thomas Hill, Ballybricken St ,and O’Connell Street.
“The art trail will give the city a whole new lease of life, a vibrant energy,” says Ms Flynn.
Most of the works, she says, would have a lifespan of about 12 months.
The project founder is Edel Tobin, a teacher in the local St Saviour’s national school, who was behind the city’s first pop-up urban garden in New Street last year. She says the weekend promises to be an unmissable experience as international artists transform large spaces in “a hub of creative activity” in the city centre.
The team is thrilled to have the support of Waterford Council which, says Ms Tobin, recognised the immense power of the “creative economy”. And while other cities outside of Ireland have promoted such projects, she notes: “Waterford is unique, no one else has taken over a whole city.
“This is a unique opportunity for people to watch enormous original works of art unfold over three days as artists sketch, paint, and stencil throughout the festival.”
“A lot of artists go by their street names and anyone who is anyone in street art will be here,” says Ms Flynn.
Among the artists are Louis Masai, James Earley, Joe Caslin, Art by Eoin, KINMX, Myne, DMC, KEMP, Danleo, ILJIN, GAG, LeBas, Mels2, Rask, JMK, Anna Doran, and Brendan Butler, as well as local artists Lisa Murphy, Rory Thompson, and Caoilfhionn Hanton.
Live music and food stalls along with kids’ activities such as face-painting and henna art are also part of the event which has a festival club nightly from 10pm at Phil Grimes pub.
A series of artists’ talks will take place daily at 3pm in different sites.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved