A walk through Waterford City is considerably more colourful these days. For the past year the South East has been a riot of colour and vibrancy since the beginning of the Waterford Walls festival last August. The festival aims to unlock the city’s potential to give abandoned and vacant architecture new life. Between unemployment and crime, Waterford has had its fair share of bad news, but the city appears to be on the rise, stronger than ever.
The injection of colour and charm is down to festival organiser Edel Tobin and curator Louise Flynn, with their extraordinary team, who have single-handedly started a revolution in the county through the medium of graffiti, or more appropriately, street art. With great support from the community, businesses and Waterford Council, the project has seen twenty derelict and vacant walls transformed over three days into an array of beautiful street art. Twenty-four renowned international, national and local artists came to Waterford to make the pioneering festival happen.
Two pieces by Roscommon native Joe Caslin in the Viking Triangle. Caslin creates temporary artwork using wheatpaste that eventually degrades leaving no trace. Photo by Michelle Brett, WCCC (L) and Aoife Grogan (R).
As the dynamic of our cities are constantly evolving, so is the growing reputation of street art. Once associated with vandalism, street art and architecture have come together as a wonderful pairing to thrill and delight the passer-by. A stroll through to the city has become infused with art on a massive scale, illuminating dark alleys and taking advantage of blank spaces. Nowhere else in Ireland has a whole city been taken over and transformed by street art.
As what often happens with powerful initiatives, regeneration leads to redevelopment. The lifespan of many of these pieces may already be under threat, but that is the beauty of this ephemeral art. Some of the existing art may disappear for something different. Preparations for this year’s festival are well under way, with hints and tasters of new pieces already appearing.
The festival has captured the imagination and appeal of the public, providing an uplifting and refreshing boost for communities. It has brightened up daily commutes through the city and brought excitement in discovering art in an unexpected place. The city has become alive with colour as nearly each piece that has remained continues to be admired and appreciated. While most may be painted over or fade away, the beauty of the ephemeral city remains.
Waterford Walls runs 25th – 28th August 2016 with even more artists, workshops, live demos & food trails. For more information see waterfordwalls.ie.