Ardú Street Art project returned to Cork city this month with some of the country’s most exciting street artists to brighten up the city’s streets. Commissioning artwork from home grown 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.
This year’s edition features four large-scale murals, three of which are now complete, with the final wall to be finished over the coming days.
First to be revealed is a depiction of the Goddess Clíodhna, by Northern Ireland based artist Friz, at St. Finbarr’s Road, Cork.
Speaking about her mural, Friz introduces Clíodhna, “a celtic deity 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.”
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 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.”
Across Leeside, on the Lower Glanmire Road/Horgan’s Quay, find the third mural by Navan-born artist Shane O’Malley. Describing his mural, Shane says:
“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.”
The fourth and final wall for Ardú 2021 is work in progress, currently being painted by Cork-born artist Conor Harrington, at Bishop Lucey Park (Grand Parade entrance). Conor will be working throughout this week, members of the public are encouraged to come and watch as his piece comes to life. Based in London since the mid 2000s, Harrington has created street art in New York, Miami, Paris, London, Warsaw, Copenhagen, Aalborg, Mallorca, Sao Paulo, San Juan, and the Bethlehem Wall; this is Conor’s first large-scale mural in his hometown.