New street art in town

I originally had today’s post sorted out at the beginning of the week but it was put on hold when I got wind of something else – a new street art installation has just appeared on the side of a building on the fringe of the town centre so I just had to go check it out and take a few photos.
The building in question was once a 4-storey textile mill dating from the late 19th century, joined to its 4-storey twin by a 2-storey central annexe, and set in the wall above what would once have been a doorway is a carved date stone – ‘J B & Co 1890’. Abandoned and derelict for many years the buildings are now owned by a north east property development company and are in the process of being converted into luxury apartments as part of a regeneration scheme, and it was this company which commissioned the artwork.
Measuring 50ft x 40ft and depicting much of the town’s history and heritage the mural was painted over the last three months by Manchester-based artists Kelzo and Entise using eight tiers of scaffolding, and it was only fully revealed last weekend. Included in the picture are Samuel Crompton’s Spinning Mule, the town hall and three of the town’s symbolic elephants, plus a couple of Manchester bees which represent the two artists. The peaks of the old mill’s original roofline are depicted in the hills at the top of the picture and the man featured is Joshua Barber, a Victorian cotton waste merchant who once owned the mill and whose initials are carved in the date stone.
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Unfortunately a high wall and solid double gates prevented me from getting the very bottom of the mural in the photo but I didn’t miss much out. A comment in the local press said the mural has ruined the side of the building but I’m sure many others will think differently – after all, a well painted piece of artwork brightening up a currently run down area has got to look better than a blank brick wall. I know which I prefer.

 

Bolton’s street art…

What little there is of it anyway.
My Monday walk this week is a relatively short one across the town centre from north to south, starting at the 1st Edition tattoo parlour just on the north edge of town. It’s round the corner from one of the places where I work so I pass it regularly ; the mural on the side wall has been done by a Hungarian-born Preston tattoo artist with over ten years experience working as a graphic designer, illustrator and street artist.
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Artist – Andrew Senph
Down into the town centre itself now, and the Greyhound pub on Deansgate. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to find out any history of the pub other than for some strange reason it’s referred to locally as the Kicking Donkey ; on its side wall is one of several murals done by an artist going by the name of Kaser.
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Artist – Kaser
A few minutes walk from the Greyhound and past the open market took me to the Griffin pub on Great Moor Street and a Kaser mural on the corner wall, though again I can find no history of the pub itself.
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Artist – Kaser
Another few minutes walk and I came to the Sweet Green Tavern on Crook Street, and more murals by Kaser. Yet again I’ve been unable to find out much history of the pub though the very friendly young lady behind the bar did tell me that the building used to be three separate premises. The window on the far left was once a doorway and that and the two windows on its right were the original pub which was just one room. The existing doorway and the two windows to its right belonged to a bakery and the other three windows were the doorway and windows of a house.
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Stretching along the pub’s rear wall, and bordering the main road, is a large mural which pays tribute to the photos of Humphrey Spender and the Mass Observation of 1937/38. Seen close up it’s just a jumble of black and grey shapes but from across the road (or in my case the middle of the road!) it makes more sense.
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Artist – Kaser

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On the end wall of the pub is another mural by Kaser, taken from a photo of the 1918 Crook Street train crash. On March 16th that year a coal train with an engine weighing 70 tons pulling wagons carrying over 400 tons of coal ran out of control going down the incline approaching Bolton Terminal Station. It was diverted into the Crook Street goods yard but ran through the yard, smashed through the buffers and the boundary wall, crossed the road diagonally and smashed into two small houses. The guard jumped from the brake van but the driver and fireman stayed on the footplate ; fortunately none of the men suffered more than minor injuries but eight people living in the houses were injured, though not seriously. In addition to the damage to the engine and the houses five coal wagons were completely wrecked and seven others were damaged.
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Artist – Kaser
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Framed article in the pub, taken from the local paper in 1998
Going through the pub and out into the outside smoking area I found a plethora of murals by Kaser. Unfortunately some of the canopy supports prevented me from getting completely uninterrupted photos of some of the murals but the shots I got were good enough. My favourite was the hummingbird on the end wall, and even though it was looking a bit worse for wear it was still quite pretty.

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This has no connection to the artist Banksy – the landlord’s name is Banks
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As far as I’m aware these murals are the only examples of street art in my town ; I can think of several places which could be brightened up with a mural or two so it’s a shame that most of these are hidden behind the outside wall of a pub’s beer garden. I’m glad I found out about them though, and at least I’ve added a few more photos to my street art collection.

 

A day out in Dublin

In which I take a long walk round Dublin city centre, find more street art than I ever imagined, and have a very unusual coffee….
Since my two visits to Dublin in September an internet search had provided me with maps of four street art walks around the city ; one of these seemed to be a distance out of the centre itself but the other three were definitely doable. Not sure if I would have enough time to do all three in one day before I lost any decent daylight I concentrated on the first two which were both in the same part of the city ; the starting points of each walk were close together but the end points were a distance apart so to save back-tracking I started at the end of one and followed the route in reverse to join up with the start of the second, thus turning two two-and-a-half mile walks into one five mile circuit.
My walk began on the south side of the river at City Quay with a large Irish Wolfhound done by James Earley, the artist who painted the outside of the Blooms Hotel ; I’d actually photographed this one in September but still took another shot of it. Right along the riverside, past the Samuel Beckett Bridge and almost before I ran out of road, a right turn took me up to Hanover Quay on the huge basin of the Grand Canal where I found another work by James Earley, though this one was partially obscured by several leafless young trees. There was another one close by done by Decoy but the bottom half of it had been painted over which rather spoiled it, so I gave that one a miss.
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Artist – James Earley
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Artist – James Earley
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The Grand Canal basin
Past the end of the canal basin a good walk involving two right and two left turns took me to the next piece, a 2-part work on the side of a business premises. Not far from there was Merrion Square followed by St. Stephen’s Green and Iveagh Gardens and as I was going that way anyway I took a look round all three and also photographed some more of the colourful Georgian doors for another post. I was particularly interested in seeing Iveagh Gardens properly as I’d abandoned my visit there in September due to a sudden rain shower.
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Artist – Ominous Omin
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Merrion Square Gardens

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Oscar Wilde’s house
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St. Stephen’s Green
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The cascade, Iveagh Gardens

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The next artwork I wanted to find was just a few streets away from Iveagh Gardens. I couldn’t get all of it due to a couple of parked cars being in the way but the line at the bottom actually reads ”So get your head out of your phone”. A very true sentiment when so many people these days walk round with their heads down, eyes glued to their phones and constantly texting or internet surfing as they walk. From there a long zigzag route down towards the Temple Bar area provided me with more street art than I ever thought possible and I took so many photos it’s been really hard deciding which ones to include in this post.
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Artists – Maser in collaboration with Aches
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Artist group – Subset
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Artist unknown
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Artist – Maser
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A digitised image by Aches – more effective if viewed from a distance
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Side wall of The Times Hostel – artist unknown
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Artist unknown
Now although certain individuals may think it’s fun to get a cheap can of spray paint and scrawl amateurish pictures and tags over random bits of blank walls proper works of street art need permission from the council and this permission isn’t always granted. Street art though is a constantly changing medium, murals can often be changed twice in the time it takes to get that permission and headed by the artist group Subset the Grey Area Project was born, a movement to paint murals on walls quicker than the council can paint those same walls grey. Although some of the murals I found may not be completely ‘official’ they certainly brighten things up and look a lot better than blank grey walls.
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Artist group – Subset
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On the back wall of a cash and carry place – artist unknown
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Artist – Eoin Barry
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Artist – unknown
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Liberty Lane – a whole street full of art and graffiti
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The next few murals I wanted to find were all in Temple Bar but as I headed down the main road in that direction I unexpectedly came to the entrance to an indoor shopping arcade. With shops on each side and stalls down the centre it looked quite intriguing but I didn’t want to linger so once I could get a clear view with no-one close by I took a quick shot then continued down the road to Temple Bar and hopefully some coffee and cake.
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George’s Street Arcade
A while ago Queen of Tarts, an Irish cake shop and café, had been recommended to me though I can’t remember now who or where the recommendation came from, so I thought I’d give it a try and found it down the pedestrianised Cows Lane just off the main road. It seemed to be quite a busy place but I found a small vacant table and ordered a latte coffee and a slice of the ‘Queen of Chocolate Fudge’ cake ; it was going to cost more than I would normally pay for something like that but I was on holiday so deserved a treat. Well that’s my excuse anyway!
After the young waiter had taken my order I was quite surprised when he returned a couple of minutes later with a carafe of chilled water and a glass – this was something totally unexpected and I began to feel I should have dressed for the occasion! My coffee and cake arrived not long afterwards and that’s when I got another surprise – instead of the coffee being in the usual type of tall glass mug with a handle it came in a small handle-less glass, the type of thing you would have orange juice in if you had a hotel breakfast. This was weird, and when I looked round to see other people being served drinks in the sort of glass mugs I’d expected my coffee to come in it seemed even weirder.
Wondering if the young waiter had made a mistake I went up to the counter to query it and was told it was usual to serve the coffee like that as that was how the owners liked it to be done. I must admit though, of all the different places I’ve been in over the years I’ve never encountered that  one before. The coffee itself however, although not mad hot, was very nice and the cake was absolutely divine ; I’d actually expected to only get a small slice with a tiny blob of cream but I got a sizeable piece with a good portion of cream, in fact there was so much cake that I couldn’t quite eat it all. Price-wise it hadn’t been too much of a blow-the-budget expense either and although the coffee situation was weird the cake was wonderful so I’d definitely go back there another time.
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Coffee and cake at Queen of Tarts
Back along the main road from the end of Cows Lane was Crampton Court, a courtyard and narrow alley leading between the road and the main street through Temple Bar. In 2014 ‘Love The Lanes’ was a joint initiative between Dublin Council and The Temple Bar Company to allow artists to visually improve some of the lanes around Temple Bar and this alleyway was one of them, being decorated on both sides by various artworks. By the time I emerged from the alleyway the daylight was starting to fade so I got my last four shots as I walked along the main street through Temple Bar then headed back towards the river and the bridge which would take me towards the bus station.
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A collection of strange creatures promoting a youth art initiative
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Artist – unknown
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Artist – unknown
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Portrait of Irish musician B P Fallon by Maser
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Artist – James Earley
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ESB building, Temple Bar – artist(s) unknown
At the far side of the river I noticed that the pyramid rooftops of George’s Quay Plaza were lit with purple lights round the edges and in the fading sunlight they looked quite attractive. On the side wall of the building down below was the outline of what had once been a work of street art ; created by Italian artist Artur Bordalo it was a red squirrel and had been made up of different items of trash, including an old bike, found in and around the city. Unfortunately it fell foul of Dublin council’s drive to build as many new hotels and office blocks in as many derelict or run down parcels of land as possible and it had to be removed, although nothing has been built there yet.
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Sunset over the Liffey
With the sun finally setting over the river I made my way round to the bus station and got the 4.30pm coach back to Roscrea. I hadn’t had time to do the third street art walk but I’d certainly got plenty of photos during my day and I can look forward to doing the other walk another time.

A day out in Limerick

Where I find some colourful horses and lots of street art…
A cold but sunny morning on the second full day of my holiday saw me heading off to Limerick in search of some street art. I’d found a few examples when I was there in September and since then I’d found a website listing several more and their locations so with a list written in my notepad I was now on a mission to find and photograph them. Getting off the coach at Arthur’s Quay park I crossed the grass to get a view of the Shannon river, and though I took a photo from there back in September it looked so nice I just had to get another shot. Sitting on top of a post in the water was a seagull, so still that I thought for a moment someone had somehow put a stuffed toy up there, but eventually it moved so I zoomed in and took a snap ; its red beak and legs told me it could have been a red billed gull, one which also seemed to be still quite young.
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Along the road from Arthur’s Quay was the Hunt Museum, originally an 18th century Customs House designed by an Italian architect. After a major restoration and refurbishment in the mid 1990s the building was established as a museum to house the important and extensive art works and antiquities collected by John and Gertrude Hunt during their lifetime ; more information about the museum can be found here.
Standing outside the museum were two life-size and very colourful horses from the Horse Outside Project, a joint venture between the museum and a community arts initiative. The work on the horses evolved over several months and the colours and images painted on them were inspired by various objects in the museum’s collection, including sacred and religious items.
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Just along from the museum the road took me over the river and I followed it past St. Mary’s Cathedral to St. Mary’s Church where information led me to believe there could be a mural on the opposite corner. There was, a large and very colourful one on a gable end wall with a smaller one on the back yard wall of the butcher’s shop next door, and though the pig needed no explanation I couldn’t really see the significance of the wording. It was rather amateurish compared to others I found and wasn’t on my list but it was worth including it.
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Artist – Betarok75
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Artist unknown
Heading back towards the city centre I came across a narrow street off the main road and set at an angle to another street with a triangle of grass and trees between the two. The houses were double-fronted and the door and window surrounds were all painted different colours making the terrace look quite attractive. There was a car parked outside the far end house and four or five young cats were playing round it, chasing leaves and whatever else they could find. One of the cats looked particularly pretty and while I didn’t want to get too close in case I spooked them all I managed to get a shot of that one.
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Back across the river and in a small courtyard on the side wall of a solicitor’s premises near the bridge I found the first ‘proper’ mural, and though it wasn’t on my list, right across from it on the side wall of a small modern 2-storey office block was another one, presumably done by the same two London artists known as Church of Best Ever. At the far side of the office building, between that and the library building, was a long narrow alley and as I passed the end I spotted some more street art about halfway down ; none of it was on my list so I had no idea of the artist(s). The alley was a dead end, leading to what seemed to be a boat repair business ; a few old dinghies were lined up alongside the wall of the workshop and these had been painted to incorporate them into the art on the wall ; unfortunately I couldn’t get the full mural as a couple of cars were in the way.
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Back past the Hunt Museum and across the ground floor windows, doors, shutters and walls of a disused building was the slogan ”Culture is where we are from” while round the corner was the same slogan but with the word ‘from’ replaced by ‘going’. Back in 2014 Limerick had been Ireland’s first National City of Culture and the slogans were produced in a 2016 bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2020, though the city lost out to Galway. Unfortunately due to the amount of traffic and/or parked cars I couldn’t get either slogan completely but with a lot of patience I managed to get the best bits.
Although I’d made a list of the artworks I wanted to find and the street names of their locations I’d forgotten to print out a street map before I left home so my next port of call was the tourist information office, where I got chatting to a very friendly and helpful lady who gave me a street map and also marked on it the locations of the artworks I wanted to find. I didn’t get the lady’s name but I did tell her about this blog and she made a note of it – so if you’re reading this, whoever you are, then thank you, your help was much appreciated.
Walking up the road from the tourist office my eye was caught by something which appeared to be flying above a narrow lane on my right so I stopped to have a look. There was a pub and bar on the right with seating outside and this ‘thing’ was suspended on chains between the upper floor of the bar and the wall of the building across ; it was a bird of prey, possibly an eagle, though what ever it was supposed to be it looked rather weird and seemed to have no significance to the bar.
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Further up the road I came to the Biodiversity Garden and the next two artworks on my list. The garden was created several years ago from a corner plot of derelict land, to coincide with Limerick being the 2014 National City of Culture ; over 100 small native Irish trees were planted, along with over 35 species of Irish wildflowers and several larger trees in recycled oil barrels decorated by local artists. Now while I have no doubt that the garden initially looked very pretty it certainly doesn’t look like that now ; with overgrown and untidy shrubs, a stack of pallets against one wall, a couple of traffic cones lying on the floor and a hotch-potch of other detritus in various places it looked very unkempt, unloved and abandoned.
The artwork, called Love Me So, is on two adjacent walls in the garden and was painted in 2013 by Dermot McConaghy. One section stands at 30ft x 50ft and the other is 20ft x 30ft, with both pieces taking a total of four days to complete. The larger piece features a woman looking back on herself as a child and the smaller one features that same child. Unfortunately the child’s face was looking a bit worse for wear and both pieces were partially obscured by overgrown trees and shrubs but I managed to get a reasonable shot of each of them.
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Love Me So (1) by Dermot McConaghy
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Love Me So (2) by Dermot McConaghy
Across the road from the Biodiversity Garden was Fox’s Bow arch at the entrance to a narrow back lane leading to the shopping street beyond ; on the side wall of the arch was a mural by Louisa Donnelly but I couldn’t get the whole thing as there was a car parked right in front of it. Unfortunately it had been defaced in a couple of places but seen face on it was the abstract face of a big cat, possibly a tiger. Towards the top of the road the whole frontage of one particular building had been given a makeover with some psychedelic art ; at the time I didn’t know who the artist was but I suspected it could have been Maser as his artwork is very distinctive, and later information told me I was right.

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Artist – Louisa Donnelly
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Artist – Maser
At the top of the road I turned right and right again into the road behind, where I found the next artwork on my list. On the corner of a 3-storey car park building it was painted in 2014 by an Australian artist of Irish parentage, and though the colours may have faded a bit from when it was originally done it’s still a great piece of art and so far has managed to escape being defaced by senseless graffiti.
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The Fishermen by Fintan Magee
Having temporarily run out of street art with that last piece I made my way down the road to take a walk along the riverside in the direction of the docks, though I only went as far as the Shannon Bridge. At the far side of the bridge was a skate park with a sea theme painted on its outside walls, and though the shark wasn’t in the same league as most of the street art I’d seen it amused me enough to take a photo of it.
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Retracing my steps I came to the Seamens’ Memorial, set down off the quayside and with its back to the river. Originally it was in remembrance of the lost seamen of the Shannon estuary and wasn’t specific to wartime casualties, however in 2004 a stone tablet was added to the base of the memorial, listing the names of the Limerick and Clare men who lost their lives on three Irish Merchant Navy ships during WW2 ; this was because the bodies of the men were never recovered and their families wanted them to be remembered in some way.
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The Seamens’ Memorial on Bishop’s Quay
Further along the riverside, where Bishop’s Quay becomes Howley’s Quay, was the Dockers Monument, commissioned by Limerick City Council and erected in 2010. At the time when Limerick’s dockyards were a major source of employment working there was one of the most enduring and difficult ways to earn a living so the life size bronze sculpture by Limerick-born artist Michael Duhan now pays tribute to all those men who served at the docks, with their names on a commemorative plaque beside the monument.
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The Dockers Monument
Heading back in the direction of Arthur’s Quay park I was beginning to feel quite peckish – it was time for coffee and cake, and I couldn’t think of anywhere better than Jack Monday’s Coffee House where I’d had a nice lunch on my day in Limerick in September. Crossing the river at the next road bridge I repeated my September walk along Clancy’s Strand which would bring me out opposite Jack Monday’s. Towards the end of the riverside boardwalk and displayed on a tall pedestal was the Treaty Stone, a large irregular-shaped block of limestone which was once used as a mounting block for horse riders and where the Treaty of Limerick was reputedly signed on October 3rd 1691.
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The Treaty Stone
After indulging in coffee and a slice of gooey chocolate cake I crossed back over the river to find the last artwork on my list ; it was situated on a gable end wall across from the castle although what’s there now isn’t what I was originally looking for. After my visit to Limerick in September I’d found out about a large artwork in that location, though I couldn’t understand how I’d missed seeing it at the time as it was very much ‘in your face’, however the lady in the tourist information place had told me it had been removed in September, obviously just prior to my visit there which would explain why I didn’t see it.
Just along the street from the new artwork was a piece which had only appeared since I was there in September. It was on a side wall set back off the street but so far I’ve been unable to find out who the artist is and what it represents. Further along still my eye was caught by an old advertising sign on the wall above the Cauldron Bar, a premises no bigger than an ordinary terraced house though maybe years ago it was once a little hardware shop. Although not strictly street art I took a photo of the old sign as I like things like that and I remember the brand name from my early childhood.
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Artist unknown
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An old advertising sign from way back
And so to the new artwork across from the castle. Designed and painted by Dublin-based artist Aches it’s dedicated to The Cranberries lead singer, Limerick-born Dolores O’Riordan, who died suddenly almost two years ago at the age of 46. It was created by overlaying three separate images of her performing on stage back in 1993, images chosen to immortalize her as a young woman at the peak of her career. I must admit to not being terribly familiar with any of The Cranberries songs, I only really know Linger, but for the people of Limerick memories of the singer will certainly linger on in this colourful artwork.
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Dolores O’Riordan by Aches
That was to be my last photo of the day, I’d been wandering round Limerick for four hours and though it was still only just after 3pm I didn’t want to be too late in getting a coach to Roscrea as the ride back would take over an hour. I’d found all the artwork on my list and more besides so my day out had been very successful – it was now time to get back to Roscrea and relax in front of the fire.

 

Blooms Hotel, James Joyce and James Earley

Returning to Ireland for today’s post and the 100-bedroom Blooms Hotel, which I came across while on one of my recent wanderings round Temple Bar in Dublin. Established in 1979 and located on the corner of Anglesea Street and Cope Street the building is certainly very striking, and presumably whoever it was who established the place must have been a fan of author James Joyce although I didn’t realise the significance at the time I was there.
Back in 1922 James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ was published, since then being considered to be one of the most important books of the 20th century. The story follows the journey of the two main characters, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, as they criss-cross Dublin from south to north on June 16th 1904, where they meet other characters along the way and consume copious amounts of Guinness on what would be referred to these days as a marathon pub crawl.
Every year on June 16th many James Joyce enthusiasts, some dressed in Edwardian costume, re-enact this epic pub crawl, and though it’s referred to as a ‘literary event’ it’s basically an excuse for lots of drinking broken up by a bit of walking and the reading of various excerpts from the book. The event is known as Bloomsday and the first mention of such a thing was found in a letter from James Joyce to a Miss Weaver, dated June 27th 1924 and referring to ”a group of people who observe what they call ‘Bloom’s Day’ – June 16th”. The book itself must have made a big impression on someone back in the 1970s as the hotel was named after one of the story’s main characters.
Fast forward to the present day and we find James Earley, a Dublin artist whose works are based on his family’s artistic past within Irish stained glass art. James has been producing artworks in public spaces since 1997, playing an active role in the Irish graffiti movement, and from 2010 has developed abstract figurative works based on the principles and beauty of stained glass. He has travelled widely with his art throughout Europe, Asia and America and has worked on a variety of large-scale projects with various art-based organisations and multi-nationals which support the arts.
In 2014 James was commissioned to paint the exterior of Blooms Hotel ; the project took a full year to complete and to date is the largest public artwork in Ireland. When I first saw it I was quite surprised that this street art wasn’t just part of one wall, it was the whole exterior of the building. With my liking for bright colours and abstract, psychedelic designs I just had to take a few photos although the names on the pictures meant nothing to me at the time until I did a bit of later research and found the connection to James Joyce’s Ulysses.
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Looking at the hotel’s exterior it’s not surprising that it took a year to complete the artwork as it’s so detailed, and the pictures of the book’s characters are exceptionally well done. It may not be to everyone’s taste but personally I like it, and the whole building certainly brightens up that area of Temple Bar. I hope it stays like that for quite some time to come – and maybe, sometime in the future, I’ll track down a copy of Ulysses and read the story for myself.

Dublin street art

While on my recent days out in Dublin I came across many different variations of street art, most of them in the Temple Bar area, so join me on my Monday walk this week as I wander the streets, lanes and alleyways on the south side of the River Liffey. Most of the artwork is unfortunately ‘artist unknown’ although the names of some artists are underneath the relevant photos – mouse over or click on the multi-shots for names and/or locations.
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The Tara building, Tara street, Artist – Maser
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Temple Bar Laundry, Aston Quay/Aston Place
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The Icon Factory art gallery/cafe, Aston Place
The Icon Walk is a public art installation showcasing original work by local artists and featuring many Irish icons both past and present ; it’s also a way of brightening up the forgotten lanes and alleyways behind Fleet Street and discouraging senseless graffiti and the discarding of rubbish. Although I wasn’t really interested in photographing the faces of various Irish people, most of whom I’ve never heard of, I did like the multi-coloured murals along one side of Bedford Lane.
At the end of Bedford Lane was an artistic tribute to the famous greyhound from the 19th century, Master McGrath (pronounced Magraa). The smallest of a litter of seven born in 1866 and trained by a well-known Waterford trainer of greyhounds for coursing he performed so badly at his first trial that his trainer ordered for him to be given away. His handler took him on and he went on to win several courses, after which he was given back to his trainer. Master McGrath was the first greyhound to win the Waterloo Cup three times and he became such a celebrity that his owner, the 2nd Baron Lurgan, was asked to take him to meet Queen Victoria and the Royal Family.
Master McGrath’s success was so great that Lord Lurgan was able to build a terrace of houses in Walthamstow, London, with the proceeds from his wins ; the houses still stand, forming part of Shernhall Street, though at one end they are still clearly marked as ‘Master McGrath Terrace’. The dog died of heart disease in early 1873 and an autopsy showed that his heart was twice the size of a normal dog’s heart ; he was buried in the grounds of a house called ‘Solitude’ in Lurgan.
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Bricked-up doorway, Bedford Row
The ESB Central Distributing Station is a large building which wraps around the corner of Fleet Street and Bedford Row. Built in 1926-28 for the Electricity Supply Board it houses an electricity substation and offices ; representative of the design used by the ESB in the early 20th century it’s one of the few buildings of that style in the city and is a significant contributor to the architectural character of the Temple Bar area. The modern artwork extends right along the front of the building but unfortunately I couldn’t get a decent photo of it as there were too many people around to spoil the shots so I had to be content with a side view.
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Side wall of ESB Central Distributing Station, Bedford Row
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Side wall of Auld Dubliner pub, Fleet Street
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Side wall of Japanese noodle bar, Asdill’s Row
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Artist group – Subset
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A pair of very bright shop doors
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Rear of Café Rubis, Crane Lane
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Above the Jam Art Factory, Crown Alley
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Shop front, Fownes Street, artist – KinMx
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Kennedy art shop, Harcourt Street
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Traffic light box, Tara Street
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Building site hoarding, City Quay, artist – Leah Hewson
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Irish Wolfhound, City Quay, artist – James Earley
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Shop front, George’s Quay, artist – Decoy
These are just some examples of Dublin’s street art, there are many more which either I couldn’t find at the time or I didn’t know about until I got home. One which I did find though provided me with so many photos I think it deserves a post of its own which will follow soon. An internet search since I got home has provided me with a map of four different street art walking routes in the city which take in many of the works by named artists, and though I may not have time to do all four walks in one day I fully intend to do at least two of them the next time I’m in Ireland.
I’m linking up this week with Jo’s Monday Walk where she shows us some of the delights of Sao Bras de Alportel in Portugal – do pop over and have a look if you haven’t already done so.

More of Blackburn’s street art

Exactly a week after my first walk round Blackburn town centre I got the 7.30am train from the nearest station to home and arrived back in Blackburn less than half an hour later, so my Monday walk this week features my continued wanderings to find more of the murals in various parts of the town. First was the Alexandra Gallagher mural at the back of a car park, which I couldn’t get last time as too many cars were in the way, and bingo! – my early start had paid off as this time there wasn’t a car in sight and I was able to get shots of the whole thing. Next was the coffee shop window and again my early start proved to be a winner as the place wasn’t yet open so there were no tables, chairs or people outside to get in the way.
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Artist – Alexandra Gallagher
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A strange but cute creature
From the coffee shop I had to cover some ground I’d already covered on the previous visit but the next two murals were in roughly the same area and I didn’t want to double back on myself any more than I needed to. Given the title ‘Cottonopolis’ the first one was done by a female duo well known in the street art world and it paid tribute to Lancashire’s cotton mill workers of the past, some of which were young children only six years old.
The second one wasn’t the easiest thing to photograph as it was on one of the staggered side walls of a modern building surrounded by high railings and security gates – I had to put my arm through the railings, point the camera and hope for the best, and just as I was getting my shot a nearby intercom buzzed into life with a disembodied voice asking if it could help me. Presumably I’d been picked up on cctv, in which case the voice would have seen that I was only taking a photo so I ignored it, got a couple of shots and went on my merry way.
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‘Cottonopolis’ – artists – Nomad Clan
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Artist – Tank Petrol
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The full mural – only half a face
Back up the road again and near the car park mural I managed to get a shot of one I missed on my previous visit as there were cars parked in front of it, then it was on to a road junction where I should have been able to find two more murals but it seemed they no longer existed. That wasn’t the case with the next one though – I’d found it on the internet since my first visit, it featured a couple of Hayley Welsh’s whimsical creatures and I just had  to find the real thing if it was still there so I was really pleased to see it covering the whole of a gable end wall overlooking another car park.
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Artist – Marcus_Method
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Artist – Hayley Welsh – the balloons represent inner thoughts drifting from the mind
The next mural was on a wall by a car park behind the Hayley Welsh mural but this particular piece of rough land was seemingly being used as a bit of a site storage area for the nearby roadworks. It was cordoned off with tall barriers and there was so much stuff around that I couldn’t even see the mural properly, however the barrier gate was open and though there was a notice saying ‘Construction site parking only’ I figured out that as I wasn’t parking anything and there was no-one around anyway it would be okay to nip in and get the best shot I could. So that’s what I did, without getting caught, and also got a corner shot from outside the barrier.
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Artist – Cracked Ink
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From there it was only a short distance to the next one which was done for the Open Walls festival last year. This particular mural was huge, taking up the whole wall and boarded-up windows of an old building although part of it was obscured by trees. Painted by Sheffield artist Phlegm (I’m sure he could have picked a better name than that!) it’s a homage to the town’s cotton workers of years gone by and features a fantasy creature sitting at a loom.  A local vote after the event picked it out as being the town’s favourite, but though it’s a brilliant piece of artwork there are others which I personally prefer.
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‘Loom’ – artist – Phlegm
Just down the road from ‘Loom’, and on the side wall of a bar, was a mural by an English-based Malaysian artist. It was done in the style of a fine arts piece depicting a dressmaker at work, but the wall was in a closed-in alley and once again several commercial wheelie bins were in the way so I could only get a partial shot of it.
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Artist – Caryn Koh
Having had no breakfast before I left home I was feeling rather peckish by this time so I broke off my mural search and went to look for a café – a proper café where I could get a decent breakfast at a reasonable price, not one of these ‘in’ places of the moment which sell vile looking green smoothies and ‘healthy options’ costing an arm and half a leg – and I eventually found one in one of the pedestrianised shopping streets. A quick look at the menu and I chose a ham omelette, which was made with four eggs and came with a salad, and a mug of milky coffee, and I must say I was quite impressed. The omelette was so filling I only just managed to eat it all and the coffee was really good, so that’s a place to remember if I ever go to Blackburn again.
Heading back to where I needed to resume my mural search I cut down a short narrow alley and came across the rear yard of some business premises protected by a high steel fence and a very colourful gate ; I don’t know if the gate was supposed to be part of the art thing but it was worth a quick shot anyway. Not far from where I hoped to find the next murals on my list I had the surprise of finding one which wasn’t ; it was on a hoarding on the corner of a narrow back alley and was very amateurish in comparison to all the others, also some moron had scribbled over part of it with a few rude words but I managed to get most of it.
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A very colourful gate
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Artist – unknown. The banner in the creature’s paw reads “Water voles are in rapid decline due to the destruction of their habitat by humans”
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Round the corner from the water voles were the next three murals on hoardings, one of which celebrates Lancashire’s farming heritage, and down the street was a large mural high up on a gable end wall. Below the wall, at street level, was an enclosed private bit of land with a wooden shack type of a building and on the front of it were two more murals which I didn’t expect to see as they weren’t on my list – there was no clue to the artist(s) but one of these I recognised as being the face of the well-known 1930s, 40s and early 50s Blackburn contralto singer Kathleen Ferrier.
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Artist – Mr Tea One
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Artist – Jay Sharples
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A paste-up from photographer Taylor Rianne
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Artist – Case Maclaim
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Artist – unknown
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Artist – unknown
By this time I needed to find a loo but wasn’t sure where there would be any, however across the far side of the nearby large car park was a Morrisons store and as I needed to get some bread at some point that day I thought I may as well kill two birds with one stone, which actually worked in my favour. The store had an off shoot like a very mini shopping mall and high up over the door into the street was a clock – not exactly street art but it amused me enough to take a photo of it as I was on my way out. I’ve since learned that it strikes every quarter of an hour and the monkeys swing down from the tree – if I’d known that beforehand I would have waited another five minutes just to watch it.
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The Morrisons clock
Back to the mural search and the next one, which would have been the last on my list, was just across the road from Morrisons. Painted by Mr Christa it ran the full length of a long hoarding at a road junction and was quite difficult to photograph all in one but I managed to get most of it. Back across the car park and I found the final few, a group of five murals all done by the same artist but each on a separate section of wall. These were really lovely and personally I felt they deserved to be in a much more prominent location than in a side street on the high wall of a shopping centre car park.
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Artist – Mr Christa
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Artist for all five murals – Alexandra Gallagher
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Yes, this is meant to be upside down
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Satisfied that I’d finally found all the murals on my list – or most of them at least – I headed back to the station and the next train home. There were four murals I hadn’t managed to find but it wasn’t for the want of trying ; I’d been in the right location each time but it seemed that these had become non-existent, probably painted over or otherwise removed, however over the two separate days I’d found and photographed a total of 41 murals and a café window so I was happy with that. And having seen how much different Blackburn town centre is now compared to the last time I went there ten years ago maybe, just maybe,  I might return sometime for a general look round.

In search of Blackburn’s street art

After my recent foray into Manchester to seek out some of the street art in the city’s Northern Quarter I remembered reading a few months ago that Blackburn also has various murals dotted around the town centre so I decided to do a bit of internet research to find out more about them.
Blackburn Open Walls was started in 2016 by Blackburn-born international artist Hayley Welsh as a 3-year project starting that year to bring street art to some of the town’s forgotten walls, and several local, national and international artists have created a collection of large scale murals on a variety of buildings. It took a while to find out where most of these things are and after much studying of Google maps for street names I made a list and set off recently in search of some of them, so join me on my Monday walk this week as I wander round Blackburn town centre looking for art.
Leaving the van at home I went to Blackburn on the train and as I came out of the station I saw my first art piece – not a mural but the sculpture of a young woman holding her child’s arm while he tries to reach for a teddy bear dropped on the ground. A short walk from the left of the station found the first four murals, two of them by Hayley Welsh herself ; Hayley is apparently well known for her cute, whimsical and often sad looking fantasy creatures and I really loved the second one I found. From those first four murals it was just a matter of following the street route I’d written out for myself and ticking things off my list as I found them, although I ended up doing more than one deviation.
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Blackburn Youth Zone building – mural by Lucy McLoughlin
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Artist – Curtis Hylton – stork hidden down an out-of-sight storm drain
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Artist – Hayley Welsh
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Artist – Hayley Welsh
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Artist – Annatomix
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Artist – Add Fuel – This one is so realistic I had to touch the wall to check that it really isn’t layers of torn wallpaper
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Artist – Curtis Hylton
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Artist – Boo_Who_Up_North
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Artist – Goya Torres
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist – Cosmo Sarson, mural painted June 2019
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Artist – Dale Grimshaw
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A search for one of Curtis Hylton’s works, the colourful head of a bird surrounded by roses, proved to be a bit frustrating as I couldn’t find it anywhere even after several checks of my list and the street name, but I did find some works by other artists. A later internet search proved that I was in the right location and looking at the right building so the bird must have been painted over and replaced by one of the other works, though so far apart from one I’ve been unable to find out who the other artists are.
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist unknown
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Artist – Trik 09
The next mural was down a narrow back alley, covered the full rear wall of three separate businesses and reached from ground to roof. Unfortunately several commercial-sized bins were lined up alongside the wall making it difficult to get a full photo – so I wheeled three of them out of the way and the following five shots are the best ones I could get.
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Artist – Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
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Jerome Davenport
The next mural covered the full length and height of the single storey extension to a business premises but unfortunately the wall was at the back of a car park, so with cars parked all the way along it was impossible to get a full photo. I waited around for a while and eventually one car moved and I was able to get a shot of the centre part of the mural but I was disappointed not to get the whole thing as it looked really colourful.
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Artist – Alexandra Gallagher
Not far away from there was a coffee shop with rather a cute picture on its window. Okay, it wasn’t exactly street art but it was worth a photo though there was only one problem – people were sitting at tables outside, making it impossible to get a good shot of the window whichever angle I tried to take it from. So I came to a decision – I would split the walk into two parts, give up for the time being and return to Blackburn another day but very early in the morning. Hopefully then I could get a shot of the full mural with no cars in the way and also take a photo of the coffee shop window with no people in the way – so with that decision made, and happy with the shots I’d got so far, I headed back towards the station and the train home.
To be continued next week….

On the trail of Manchester’s street art

After my visit to Manchester’s Cat Café last week I was wandering idly round a few nearby streets when I came across something which gave me a great idea for a Monday walk – a huge mural painted on a gable end wall. I’d heard, or maybe read somewhere, that there was quite a lot of street art in various places around the Northern Quarter so back at home I did some Googling, made a list and printed out a street map, and went back to Manchester the following day to track down as many examples as I could.
My walk started from Piccadilly Station where I got off the train, and I found my first art example as soon as I emerged from the building. Not exactly ‘street art’ it was a sculpture by Johanna Domke-Guyot, commissioned by the charity Blind Veterans UK, formerly known as St. Dunstan’s, and unveiled in October 2018 to remember the returning blind veterans of the First World War. Thinking back to the impressive war memorial I saw at St. Anne’s a while ago it was a sculpture that somehow was impossible to ignore.
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‘Victory over Blindness’ by Johanna Domke-Guyot
Walking from the station towards Piccadilly Gardens a quick glance to my left unexpectedly found my first piece of street art on a gable end wall down a narrow side street. It wasn’t on my list but it was a good start and with the aid of my printed out street map of the area I roamed around for almost three hours along main roads, side streets and back alleys, gradually working my way round and down in the general direction of Victoria Station. Some of the things on my list proved impossible to find, maybe because they’d been painted over, and in a couple of cases major new construction work was covering up the murals, but I also had the bonus of finding some things which weren’t on my list.
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Waldorf pub – Gore Street
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‘Serenity’ – Little Lever Street
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Window shutter – Newton Street
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Tarriff  Street
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Even the bins get decorated
I had to trespass on a building site to get the next shot as the mural is set back between two buildings with the one on the left undergoing a lot of work. The front of it and half the street were cordoned off with tall barriers and I couldn’t get a proper shot from across the road, however there was a convenient gap in the barrier just in the right place so looking round to make sure that no-one was watching I stepped through, got my shot, then got the hell out of there before any of the workmen saw me. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the full height of the mural – just above the cross is a crown shape in gold – but I got the best part of it. Titled ‘King of Nowt’ it’s supposed to highlight male suicide in the younger age groups but to be honest I can’t really see the significance.
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‘King of Nowt’ – Port Street – Artists, Subset
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’10 Birds’ – Faraday Street – Artist, Mateus Bailon
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‘Bluetit’ – Newton Street – Artist, Faunagraphic
As I’ve never watched Game of Thrones – it’s definitely not my cup of tea at all – I had no idea who the next face belonged to until I Googled it when I got back home. David Bowie’s face had adorned this wall previously, which is what I’d been looking for, but it had been painted over and replaced with this ; I did like the happy dogs on the wall of the old public toilet block though, it’s a mural to make any dog lover smile.
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Arya Stark (Game of Thrones) – Stevenson Square – Artist, Akse P19
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Stevenson Square
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‘Silence Is Golden’ – Stevenson Square – Artist, Lowdown
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Stevenson Square
The next mural was painted by a UK artist for the Cities of Hope street art project in 2016 ; featuring a child of Papua New Guinea it’s dedicated to those people fighting for independence in New Guinea. The following mural doesn’t seem to have a title but it’s supposed to represent someone with mental health issues trying to overcome the difficulties faced while attempting to make some positive life changes.
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‘Two Worlds’ – Spear Street – Artist, Dale Grimshaw
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Swan building – Cable Street – Artist, Case
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‘City in a Bottle’ – Swan building
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Cross Keys Street
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Cross Keys Street
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Cross Keys Street
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Substation wall, Tib Street
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‘War Child’ – Brightwell Walk – Artist, Hyuro
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Rip ‘n’ Dip skate clothing store, Tib Street
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Tile mosaics, Tib Street – I can’t think why the one on the left should feature a Warburton’s Toastie loaf!
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Tile mosaics, Tib Street
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Section of painted hoarding, Church Street
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My Thai restaurant, Tib Street
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Olivier Morosini hair salon, Tib Street
The next picture wasn’t actually a mural, it was one section of a multi-section advertising hoarding round a vacant corner plot but I took a photo of it just because I like pugs.
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Section of advertising hoarding, Thomas Street
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Café-bar, Tib Street
The next mural must surely be the most significant of all the ones I found. Commissioned by the Manchester Evening News it was painted by graffiti artist Russell Meeham, otherwise known as Qubek, and is a true Mancunian tribute to those affected by the 2017 terror attack at the Manchester Arena, with each bee representing one of the 22 people killed in that attack. Unlike many street artists who use stencils for their work Qubek painted this freehand using dozens of cans of spray paint and taking two days to create it.
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’22 Bees’ – Oldham Street – Artist, Qubek
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‘Earth, fire, wind, water’ – Church Street
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‘Tyger Tyger’ – Thomas Street – Artist, Jim Vision
And finally, the last one isn’t really street art, it’s a pavement sign outside a coffee bar, but it amused me enough to take a photo of it – and I think I could quite probably put myself in the last category!
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Ezra & Gil coffee bar sign, Hilton Street
All these murals and signs were found within a few streets of each other in a relatively small area of the city ; I did find a couple of others but I didn’t like them enough to photograph them or want to put them on here. I have no doubt that there are probably many more tucked away down various side streets and alleyways I didn’t go down, and I know that some of the ones I found will eventually be painted over and replaced so who knows? – I don’t ‘do’ cities but I may very well be tempted to go back there another time to see what other street art I can find.