My general blog has moved!

Posted: April 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Writers at the Graffiti Jam in Drogheda, 2012

Writers at the Graffiti Jam in Drogheda, 2012

I ran this article in Hot Press Magazine during the summer of 2012, when I met some veteran Irish graffiti practitioners. Check out the full article on my journalism blog, Monica’s Hamster Wheel.

Conor Harrington at the Paris leg of the Underbelly project (photo: Martha Cooper)

Conor Harrington at the Paris leg of the Underbelly project (photo: Martha Cooper)

This fortnight’s edition of Hot Press magazine hit the stands on Wednesday, with a big interview conducted by my good self with Irish-born and London-residing street and fine artist Conor Harrington.

It kicks off a mini-series I’m working on for the magazine about different aspects of street art, where I’ll touch base with some of the key players in the various outdoor art scenes linked to Ireland.

Sometimes dismissed as vandalism, the scene of recent years has not only produced fascinating work in its own right but also launched some remarkably successful careers.

In this issue, Conor spoke to me at length about what drives artists to brave the wrath of the law and paint illegally and how his work took him on a dark excursion into the bowels of the Paris Metro as a participant in the very rare Underbelly project.

Grab a copy of Hot Press to find out more.

Armitage the Green Gorilla - Acrylic on canvas, approx 30cm x 40cm

Armitage the Green Gorilla – Acrylic on canvas, approx 30cm x 40cm

As Ireland is going through an unusual spell of sunny weather, it was the perfect opportunity to take the painting equipment outside and catch up on some long neglected work. I decided to add to my crazy zoo collection and paint a green gorilla. This project has been on my request list for quite a while now (the animal, the colour – this request was precise).

It turns out that my recent brushes with street art – be they interviews I conducted or a stencil making class I attended with Art Clash – have made more of a mark on me then expected. This gorilla came out in a rushed, sketchy manner, quickly imposing itself as something that was to be kept raw and spontaneous. It felt like I was spraypainting him onto the canvas rather than painting him. He just emerged, made of just 3 colours, nearly in spite of me.

I called him Armitage. He’s a futuristic cybernetic creature in a digital world skating on the Sense/Net ICE. Inspired by probably the best book ever written: William Gibson’s Neuromancer. If you haven’t yet read it – do. I cannot recommend it enough.

Armitage already has some fans in the Crazy Zoo target audience, as I returned from a break to find that our young neighbour had interrupted her gymnastics practice on the grass and had sneaked up to the canvas that was drying in the sun. She was just standing there and staring at him. Very cute.

Up next is a very peaceful donkey. He’s 99% complete.

Owners of vacant properties can register with Dublin City Council as a vacant space since the end of 2011 and make it available to creative individuals or groups who may need a home for one to six months. Posing as a match-maker, Dublin City Council proposes to put both parties in contact so they can work out the details of the rental through the Cultural Use of Vacant Spaces initiative.

Dublin City arts officer Ray Yeates launched the initiative shortly after his appointment in August 2011 and launched the registry that December to encourage both landlords and artists to make contact. He explained that historically, the council’s property unit has always tried to match people and the properties it owns.

“Dublin hasn’t had as much difficulty up to now with empty properties,” he said. “But we have increasing amount of empty spaces now. We would like to increase artistic activity and visibility, while offering a new social and commercial purpose to the owners of the buildings. That way, the arts continue to make the great contribution to the city that they do, it’s just another avenue.” Read the rest of this entry »

Art Clash - ADW stencil art session - photo karl martini courtesy of Art Clash

Art Clash - ADW stencil art session - photo karl martini courtesy of Art Clash

Creativity and art have resurrected in Ireland, with increasing amounts of art-related entertainment and activities emerging from the gloom.

Art Clash is one of the latest creative initiatives on the Dublin art scene, offering a series of night classes, covering topics as varied as burlesque performance, stencil art, video performance art and clothes customisation.

Curator and watercolour artist Áine Macken is behind the concept: 10 events running from March to June, designed to make art accessible to everyone, to “shake up the concept of what an average art class should be and turn each attendee into an exhibited artist.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Azaria Starfire poses at a Dr Sketchy's session (image courtesy of Dr Sketchy's Dublin)

Azaria Starfire poses at a Dr Sketchy's session (image courtesy of Dr Sketchy's Dublin)

Last week I introduced Dr Sketchy’s and spoke to the head of the Dublin Dr Sketchy’s crew, Scarlett Nymph, who spoke of the joys of creating art with underground artists in a relaxed environment and of the fact that the group was growing. The last session was indeed their most successful with approximately 70 people in attendance.

Yesterday the group announced the next Dublin session of Dr Sketchy’s, Disco Inferno, is to feature on a documentary: “We’ll be welcoming a TV Crew from the UK (with a SUPER famous presenter) who will be filming the session for a documentary series focusing on hidden gems in Dublin.” Read the rest of this entry »

Roxy Rhinestone as a naughty Snow White at the Dublin session of Dr Sketchy's, March 31st 2012

Roxy Rhinestone as a naughty Snow White at the Dublin session of Dr Sketchy’s, March 31st 2012

If you’ve always wanted to try drawing and sketching but are put off by the dreaded “art”word and its expectations, why not try “anti-art”?

Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School was set-up in a dive bar in Brooklyn in 2005 by New York girl Molly Crabapple, a self-proclaimed “22 year old art school dropout” who had also worked as an art model herself.

“She was tired of the sterile classrooms and quiet settings, where the artists drawing had almost no interaction with the models and models were expected to be devoid of personality,” says Melissa Dowell who coordinates the New York branch.

Melissa explains that the ethos of the group is to hire as many alternative performers as possible; burlesque performers, fetish models, drag queens/kings, sideshow performers, contortionists, derby girls and more. Participants are a diverse bunch, men and women, seasoned artists and first-time drawers.

“Artists love it as an addition to their usual studies, where they can let their hair down and relax when drawing,” says Melissa. “We like to promote ourselves as an alternative, not a replacement, to traditional life drawing and we’ve found the community to be incredibly inclusive of our work.” Read the rest of this entry »

I cycled across Dublin in the sun this week to pay a visit to Vincent Kelly, co-owner and director of Gallery Zozimus, an atypical gallery tucked away on Francis Street in Dublin.

Gallery Zozimus has just rounded off a successful three weeks exhibiting Irish street art in a show aptly named “Now That’s What I Call Street Art”, featuring artists like Solus, Fink and ADW alongside permanent pieces by the likes of French street artist Jef Aerosol.

View some of the pieces that were on display and find out how the exhibition lead Vincent to dedicate a permanent gallery space to street art in this on-the-fly video report.

An interesting fact for anyone technology-minded is that I compiled it using just my smartphone and the Youtube video editor.

MORE: Using stencils as a weapon: Irish guerrilla artist ADW strikes again

Richard Carrie drawing on Chattam street today

Richard Carrie drawing on Chattam street today

Today I met Richard Carrie from Australia on Chatham Street. Richard is drawing for a living, in the literal sense since he has been officially homeless for about six months now, living in hostels and homeless shelters.

Richard explained to me that he has been in severe difficulty for about a year. Having spent 12 years in Ireland, he admits to having “not been smart with money” and has now fallen foul of the dreaded recession. He’s a freelance illustrator and says drawing is his sole purpose in life. Read the rest of this entry »