Is it true the Street Art Festival in Waterford is unique in Ireland?
Yes is is unique in that it is a whole city being used as a canvas for street art as opposed to an area o such as carpark.
Waterford Walls Festival is now in its third fabulous year – what gave you the original inspiration to create the festival here in Waterford?
Art brings a smile to peoples faces, it encourages conversation in the community. Waterford is a beautiful historic city but there is more to a city than just the architecture. It is about people and how to engage people. What better way than to get people excited and to re imagine their city that to bring art to the streets?
Do you have a background in art yourself?
No but I have a huge appreciation of art and the power it has to transform peoples perception of life.
There is a huge amount of organisation and planning goes into this event. How do you fit this into your life?
I don’t, my poor old life has had to fit into this event (and 12 month project). But in fairness we have an amazing team who are behind this and who believe it in just as much as me.
Have you been surprised at the warm welcome Waterford gives the festival and the artists?
Yes and delighted of course. I always knew it was in Waterford people-we have a long tradition and respect for the arts here. Most of our artists have never been to Waterford before and are blown away by the reception and affection they receive when they come down to us. And of course it makes the hard work all the more worthwhile with the response we receive from the public towards us and the work we are doing in our city.
Beyond the actual weekend of the festival do you feel Waterford Walls makes a contribution to the community?
Completely. Besides the fact that the murals are there all year round for people to enjoy, we also have events going on all year round. In 2017,we are launching our PATTERNS OF LIGHT event in November. This is a lighting exhibition on the quayside in Waterford. We will be working with young programmers on this event. We also have guided art trails going on all year round and we start out workshop programe in schools and organisations in January until March 2018. This is all bringing increased footfall to our city, our aim is put Waterford on the map as the go to street art destination for tourists. Finally, bringing this splash of colour to our city only brings smiles to people faces.
The theme of the festival this year is Renewal and Regeneration. How do you hope the works of art can illustrate or develop this theme?
We are already instilling a sense of pride and respect in the areas where our artwork is situated. It is no coincidence that there has been no vandalism of the artwork done to date. We have chosen streets which badly need a little life breathed in to them. With the new brightly coloured artwork these areas are literally transformed with colour. We will be looking at structures besides walls in the future like seating etc.
Can you pick out any highlights for you personally from the festivals?
Gosh that is really hard because the art is so diverse and the impact it has on the audience. I love Joe Caslins piece on Jurys as it is so poignant and powerful and you can see it from every point in the city. I love Louis Masai-the elephants and that area in general as I really think the artwork has transformed that area. But for me, it is about the festival itself-when the artists arrive down and get to work. They are so inspiring to watch and see what they are going to add to our city walls. And then of course it is just great crack hanging out the weekend,.
What do you think we should specially look out for this year?
There is a real shake up this year which is very exciting . A lot of new International and national artists as well as some of our original. I love the fact that this year we will have 3 areas concentrated with artists working and our hubs with live music etc. I think it will be a lot easier for people to find their way around.We have a more comprehensive workshop and art trails programme which can all be booked with Garter Lane, and we are delighted to be working with them for the first time this year. Lots to look forward to, we can promise you that.
Do you have any other plans in the pipeline that you can share?
Lots of plans which I said above and there are more which I can’t talk about yet but if we get the go ahead will be really exciting. Waterford Walls goes national!!!!!