Since our inception we've been preparing for an inevitable standoff with our City Council. Our ideological differences have given rise to a clash between imagination and risk mitigation. This has led to a protracted court battle over several years, stemming from their allegation of “unauthorised development”.
Whilst navigating the legal system, and seek to realise our vision for Irish arts & culture, the activities of our day to day lives have provided frequent moments of deep introspection and broad reflection. Our works of art, and the structure and system which they exist within, have become all consuming. When conformity replaces courage, authority can run riot if left unchecked and unchallenged. Especially local authority.
In this challenging series of public artworks, born from the limitations placed upon our expression by interpretation of the Planning & Development Act, we aim to ignite conversation. Our monochromatic murals reject form and transcend these limitations by entering the exempted class of “painting” provided for in the Planning & Development Regulations.
The complexity of this legal and artistic frontier (read the previous blog post for full details) is mirrored through our minimalist approach. We have attempted to simplify the bureaucratic fervour through conceptual and practical reductionism. Each piece explores collaborative gestural painting using traditional tools and materials, and those of our own making. Providing a sense of freedom in the shackles of constraint, and resulting in a unique set of characteristics. Sometimes a painting can speak a thousand words, and this may be our last will and testament.
This piece includes the lodgement of a complaint, triggering the city council’s formal investigation procedure. This process will force the mural into a metamorphosis. Bereft of a definition for “mural” within the legislation, we aim to compel the Planning and Enforcement departments to categorise this work of art and engage with these questions. Thus highlighting the problematic nature of their self-appointed role as the arbitrators of public art.
Purple exists between the intersection of the primary colours red and blue, with its symbology dating back to the gods. Said to have been serendipitously found by Hercules and his dog, the colour became a favourite amongst deities and royalty. A costly and arduous process to produce the dye meant only the highest social classes could afford it. Over time these cost limitations extended into legislative prohibitions. Intriguing given it is also associated with the most spiritual of the Chakras, the Crown.
Julius Caesar limited the colour to Emperors, while Nero and Caligula made it a capital offence to wear it. Christ was wrapped in a purple robe as a mocking emblem of his royalty before his sentencing. With the advent of synthetic dyes during the industrial revolution, it became widely accessible to the public before finding a place in direct action. For the Suffragettes it represented loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause and the instinct for freedom and dignity. For us it visualises the inexplicable.
Given we were informed that the City Council intend on making applications to the Circuit Court in respect of the mural which was painted on this building, and because it had again become the subject of vandalism, we decided to replace it with another of our monochromatic murals.
As a result this will require a new investigation should they wish to proceed with their prosecution, whilst simultaneously giving rise to questions regarding section 58. (1) of the Planning & Development Act, namely “ensuring that the (protected) structure, or any element of it which contributes to its special architectural, historical, archeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest, is not endangered”. Given its condition prior to our original painting, and consideration of the "character of the structure or of neighbouring structures", their findings should prove very interesting indeed. We welcome the conversation :)
Before and throughout the process of painting these public artworks we also painted a 4m x 2m piece using a combination of oil and masonry on canvas. This gave us the opportunity to explore and experiment with the tools and techniques that would also be used to create the murals. Doing both simultaneously led to conversation ad nauseam in respect of the definition of art and its purpose in community and society.
The conclusion which we drew, literally and figuratively, was that the act of creation was paramount in understanding the inner workings of our motivation to express ourselves. The root of our desire was unveiled through the primary focus on the craft itself, learning freely through action without concern for consequence.
The untethered approach to this series of works is one we hope will inspire others to seek resolution, of all kinds, through creation. After all it has helped us to traverse the legal and justice system, whilst providing insight on how to manoeuvre within and without them. We are very grateful to have been invited by NCAD (National College of Art & Design) to display this piece on their campus, it's an honour. Shout out to Brian Hand for his continuous support and his role in making this happen. We hope it will be valuable to the students as they work to understand and develop their place within our country’s arts & culture. Drop by to see it in person and check out the work of the future generation of artists displayed throughout the college. Enjoy :)