Monday 22 July 2019

'Seek' murals bring town to life

Murals of Cuchulainn, Edward the Bruce and Peter Rice a real talking point among locals

Local artist Sean McGuill with Town Centre Commercial Manager Martin McElligott during the Seek Festival
Local artist Sean McGuill with Town Centre Commercial Manager Martin McElligott during the Seek Festival

Margaret Roddy

Seek art and you will find it on the streets of Dundalk. The town's inaugural urban art festival Seek Dundalk has proven a tremendous success, bringing visual art to the streets and getting people talking.

Over the course of a week, three internationally acclaimed artists created murals which told part of Dundalk's history while a fourth brought a much needed splash of colour to alleyway.

Townspeople and visitors saw the huge murals come to fruition as the artists worked in sometimes challenging conditions due to the changeable weather, while volunteers led daily tours for those keen to get a closer insight into what the project was all about.

As the murals of Cuchulainn, Edward the Bruce, and Peter Rice came to life, they proved a real talking point. The RTE cameras came to town and images shared on social media met with an enthusiastic response.

The festival came about through the collaboration of Dundalk's business and artistic communities, with the BIDS office being a driving force in getting the necessary sponsorship to make it happen through the efforts of Town Centre Commercial Manager Martin McElligott.

Clearly delighted with the re-action to the project, he said the organisers are 'overwhelmed by the response we're getting from the general public.'

'People are talking about the artworks and we really feel that we have hit on something which strikes a cord with people,' he continued. 'Art is a universal language and we are planning to do even more in the future, bringing in street sculpture and street installations.'

'We really want to thank all our sponsors, especially Colourtrend, Creative Ireland, and Louth County Council for coming on board,as it wouldn't happen without that collaboration.'

Local artist Barry Finnegan aka Ominious Omin, one of the organisers, created the mural on the side of the Imperial Hotel, honouring the Dundalk born engineer Peter Rice who had worked on iconic buildings such as the Sydney Opera House and Pompediu Centre in Paris.

'It's been an absolute privilege to be painting a piece of art this large in my home town,' he said. 'The whole town seems to be embracing the festival and people are talking about it, young and old, and asking questions about it.'

He said he was really happy with how his mural had turned out.

The acclaimed Dublin artist James Earley, who was commissioned to create a mural of Cuchulainn on the side of the Cuchulainn Bar on the Church Street/Patrick Street junction, commented that the festival was very well organised.

'For the first year of the festival, the organisers have got everything spot on,' he said. 'I've known Barry Finnegan and Killian Walsh for many years and have more recently got to know Martin McElligott who has been excellent to work with.'

Dublin artist Aches mural of Edward the Bruce at the top of Francis Street literally proved a traffic stopper, while Spanish artist Chula Menta created a freehand mural of oak leaves on a alleyway leading from Clanbrassil Street to Boyd's car park.

He was, he continued, very impressed with the quality of spaces that the artists were been given to paint as they had excellent visibility in key areas of town.

'The feedback we are getting is overwhelmingly positive. In this instance, the fact that the artists have been given the brief which ties in with the history of Dundalk is a very smart and positive idea as it means that we're gone and the murals are still up, people can take ownership of the artworks.'

The festival had kicked off on Saturday June 15 when local artist Sean McGuill facilitated a children's urban art workshop at the Market Square. Enthusiastic young artists enjoyed the opportunity to create their own colourful pieces of street art using stencils and spray paint.

Later that evening, the festival was launched at Creative Spark, when Executive Director Sarah Daly explained t Creative Ireland cultural team for Louth was delighted to get involved in the festival as it was the type of project which the initiative is all about, bringing art into the community.

The Argus