Ardú Street Art project made a triumphant return to Cork city for their second edition, bringing some of the country’s most exciting street artists to create thought-provoking, large-scale murals across the cityscape. Artists invited to paint include Friz, Shane O’Malley, Asbestos and Conor Harrington.
Commissioning artwork from a homegrown talent of the highest level is the main aim of Ardú, a street art project launched late last year, supported by Cork City Council and Creative Ireland, with paint, generously sponsored by Pat McDonnell Paints and spray paint from Vibes & Scribes.
Artists invited to paint include Friz, Shane O’Malley, Asbestos and Conor Harrington.
The first mural to be revealed is a depiction of the Goddess ‘Clíodhna’, by artist Friz, at St. Finbarr’s Road, Cork.
“a Celtic deity [Clíodhna,]who, in some stories, is the patron of Cork. She was the daughter of the sea god Manannan Mac Lir and thus is associated with the sea also. Some tales say she has three songbirds who accompany her, and when they sing it lulls people to sleep. When they wake, they are healed of any ailments they had.
Some versions say the birds eat from a magical apple tree, others that Clíodhna tended to these trees. It put me in mind of Idunn’s apples from Norse mythology. It’s amazing how many of our collective stories have counterparts in other cultures. Nine apples, as that number is sometimes associated with her.
She fell in love with a mortal and upon falling asleep near the shore one day her father sent a wave to carry her home. In some versions, she is drowned.
There is a subtle tear in her eye. She is said to be the Queen of the banshees, and I wanted to represent a small nod to that without going down a stereotypical Halloween version of a banshee.
When researching, local artist and Ardú organiser Peter Martin brought the Honan chapel at UCC to my attention. It is home to some stunning Harry Clarke stained glass windows as well as a divine mosaic floor. I used Clarke’s Saint Gobnait window as inspiration for my design.” Friz
If you take a walk down from Friz’s wall, towards the city centre, you’ll find “What is home?” by Dublin artist Asbestos. The giant gable end mural challenges the passerby to think about ‘What is Home?’ Do you have one, is it safe, can you afford it? Never as a country has our sense of what home means been more at the threat…
“I painted this figure wearing a cardboard box on his head to start a conversation with the public about what home means to them. As a country we are currently in an existential crisis over housing and our need to put a roof over our heads. There’s a fear and uncertainty about finding a safe space, and the system seems to be stacked in favour of the landlords.
The figure wearing the box is me, but a fictional version of myself who’s looking at the world with a naive viewpoint. So each of my masks, or personas is a character that’s asking a different question. In this case ‘What is Home?’
Home isn’t simply about where you were born, it’s where you feel you belong, where you feel safe, where you’re welcomed, where you can come back to and feel accepted, loved and part of a community. We seem to have lost sight of this recently because we’re so concerned about rent, mortgages or even having a home.
Painted over 8 days in the sunshine and rain, it was wonderful to speak to so many curious Corkonians about the mural. The support has been amazing from the public and my friends and family here, Cork definitely felt like my home for a week.” Asbestos
Across Leeside, on the Lower Glanmire Road/Horgan’s Quay, find the third mural by Navan-born artist Shane O’Malley.
“The mural for Ardú street art festival explores Movement. I was drawn to the way the mural is experienced. The majority of people passing the mural would only see it for about 5 seconds. It is located at a busy junction entering Cork city, where traffic flows past the wall. People also walk past the wall and cross the road using 2 pedestrian crossings while a train line passes near the wall.
The mural is made of bright coloured angular shapes and interconnected circles that follow the over-under pattern found in Celtic Knotwork. This creates dynamic flow lines throughout the wall, so the mural feels like its got movement and is in motion. I added an anamorphic circle at the corner of the wall that is experienced when passing the mural on foot or in traffic.
I wanted to create a piece which is impactful and bright, that would transform the area and visually improve people’s commute to the city.” Shane O’Malley
The fourth and final wall for Ardú 2021 is by Cork-born artist Conor Harrington, at Bishop Lucey Park (Grand Parade entrance).
“My favourite part of Cork is the English market. I used to do as much of my shopping as possible there when I lived in Tower Street, before moving to London. And every time I’m home I’m always sure to have a stroll through and soak up some of the atmospheres.
I’ve used the English Market as a starting point for my mural, the gate of which is opposite my wall. It was built in 1788 and has seen us through famine, boom and bust.
In my painting, a man sets a table, a composition of fruit and veg in the manner of a lot of still life paintings from the 18th Century, when the English market and much of the Grand Parade and Patrick’s Street was built. The table is overflowing with fruit, an abundance of fresh produce that has been available in the market for years. I’ve included a doll’s house on the table to illustrate how Cork is a city built on food and how our culinary scene is one of our greatest assets. I’ve also included a fire extinguisher on the table as a reminder of the Burning of Cork 101 years ago, and that although the market was mostly spared, the damage was still done.
In the mural I’ve played with proportion and inverted the traditional scale of figure and dwelling to exacerbate the idea of the Georgian figure as a looming power or Lord over his domain. In my work, I examine the role and legacy of the empire, and try to find parallels in contemporary culture. By including the doll’s house as a reference to home, housing and the current crisis in Ireland and the abundant fruit table which is in a state of overflow and collapse, I’m asking the question to whom does power and plenty belong? Despite this historical foundation, my mural is ultimately about the balance of abundance and excess, and the fall which inevitably follows.” Conor Harrington
Many local businesses in Cork have rallied behind the work that Ardú do throughout the city, a major supporter is Pat McDonnell Paints, who supplied the artists with some of their materials for this year’s programme:
“Here at Pat McDonnell Paints, we are firm believers in how paint can transform the spaces we live in. We were delighted to support Ardú and their artists bring colour and vibrancy to Cork City.
140 litres of paint tinted in over 22 colours and Conor Harrington talent and vision have given us a modern day masterpiece in a corner of Bishops Lucey Park.” Aidan McDonnell, Pat McDonnell Paints.
In order to cover total costs for this year’s event (paying for the artist’s fees, painting materials, maintenance, etc.) and to help secure the future of Ardú Street Art Project, the crew need YOUR support.
Ardú’s fundraiser allows for four donation options – €10, €20, €50, or €100 – everyone who donates is entered into a raffle to win a signed photo print of artwork from the 2020 Ardú series, which featured works by artists Maser, Peter Martin, Shane O’Driscoll, Deirdre Breen, Garreth Joyce, Aches and James Earley. There will be 5 winners chosen at random and each winner can select the artwork of their choice. The raffle is available to enter online via bigcartel.
Ardú Street Art Initiative is made possible with generous support from Cork City Council and the Creative Ireland Programme – an all-of-government five-year initiative, from 2017 to 2022, which places creativity at the centre of public policy. Further information from creativeireland.gov.ie
Photo credits John Beasley / Jed Niezgoda – www.jedniezgoda.com and Artist Asbestos