One of the things you do a lot when you move to a new town, or in my case back to your hometown, is walk around. Between catching up with friends, running errands and generally trying to sort your life out, you see a lot of the city.
As many times as I’ve walked around the streets of Cork over the years, I still find little differences, changes and quirks as I go. Something that has really stood out to me since coming home is the street art. Every trip into town, I seem to discover a new mural, restored public space or brightly painted electricity box dedicated to a unique aspect or character of Cork.
I started taking photos of some of my favourite pieces of art, and thanks to the wonder of social media I was able to find out a bit more about the artists and volunteers involved. Not only are the people behind the work committed to great art, many of them are on a mission to restore and revive neglected public areas. In a time where some of Cork’s outdoor spaces are in need of some love, it’s inspiring to see volunteers stepping up to the plate.
I didn’t realise how attached I’d become to the unique public art in Cork, until I found out that one of my favourite murals, the Frank and Walters girl on the side of the old Kino cinema, had been painted over. The mural – which I have since discovered was called ‘Jackie Oh!’ – is by renowned Cork artist Fin Dac.
The new owner of the building said the wall had to be painted, as the building was in need of repair work ahead of its relaunch as a cafe and culture centre. He also said another Cork artist Fiona Geary is beginning work on a new mural, which will have plenty of Cork references. Although it’s a shame to see it go, even Fin Dac acknowledged that this comes with the territory or creating public art. Street art can be transient, and serves as a constant reminder to appreciate the beauty around us while we are passing by, as we never know when things might change.
With that in mind, here are some of my favourite pieces of Cork street art that have brought me joy since I came home. I look forward to seeing lots more pop up in the coming months!
1. My brother knows Karl Marx…
The classic lyrics from Cork anthem, Where’s Me Jumpa? by Sultans of Ping, on an electricity box outside the Peace Park, next to another box emblazoned with a painting of Karl Marx, is the perfect piece of Cork art. Brought to us by the wonderful Reimagine Cork, it brings colour and life to the area just outside Bishop Lucey Park, a public space in need of a bit more love.
2. Flowers on George’s Quay
Perfectly situated on my way into town is this beautiful and brightly coloured display of flower pots and plants, breathing life into the otherwise grey quay area. Admiring the mini riverside garden is even better with a view of Holy Trinity Church across the river. The project is one of many by Mad About Cork, who describe themselves as ‘a guerilla group in Cork City making positive changes in derelict and run-down urban spaces through street art, guerrilla gardening, & more.’
3. Famous Cork people
I love finding these electricity boxes by Mad About Cork dedicated to famous Cork people dotted around the city. Recent favourites include wisdom and wit from Cillian Murphy, Roy Keane and folk legend Maggie Barry.
4. Cork slang dictionary
The crowd at Reimagine Cork are here to help anyone new to Cork get to grips with our local lexicon, thanks to some bold and bright visual aids. Using electricity boxes around town as their canvas, the artists have brought Cork slang to life with their unique urban dictionary.
Any other art caught your eye recently?!