What better to brighten up a dreary day in Dublin than a bit of street art hunting?
The previous day, my colleague Susanne had given me a driving tour of the city and I spotted some colourful walls on Camden Street so I headed that way.
I never know what to expect when I have a whole city at my fingertips, which is the beauty of it – the thrill of the hunt.
For me, that’s all part of the fun because I discover plenty of other little treasures along the way.
Normally, I have a general idea of a few places to look for street art, but sometimes, like this time, I go completely blindly and see what happens.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of street art in Dublin. It’s not London or New York or Berlin, but there’s definitely talent there and plenty of legal walls as well.
The day I decided to walk to Camden Street is was, of course, raining again.
Umbrella in one hand and camera tossed over a shoulder, I headed toward the spray paint.
It turned out to be a good place to start.
I found one of my favorite pieces there, this one by Anna Doran which pleads “Rain, Rain go away.”
It just seemed so fitting, considering it had rained non-stop since I arrived. It’s also one of those works of art that plays with its surroundings, interacts with its immediate environment. This always makes for interesting photos.
Partway down Camden Street, I came to a graffiti-filled alleyway, abandoned, with a row of council flats at the end.
I walked down it slowly, taking in the colourful scribbles on the walls from beneath my spotted umbrella.
A teenager in a hoodie walked past with hands jammed into the pockets of his jeans, grinning and nodding in my direction when he saw me photographing the walls.
The alleyway wound all the way around the back of a large square space.
From the back, I could see between broken slabs in the fence.
I wished there was a way to get inside; it was an abandoned grassy area full of art and I could barely make out a spray painted bus parked (probably permanently) on the far side.
Cans of paint were left behind in the overgrown grass.
After that, I walked down toward Iveagh Gardens, another hidden square, but more on that later.
A few days after my walk down Camden Street, TBEX had ended and Jorge came up for the weekend.
We wandered about the city without too much direction, poking our noses down side streets with ivy-covered buildings, popping into shops with interesting storefronts and people watching in the parks.
The sun even came out for a while and St. Stephen’s Green filled to the brim!
I photographed pieces of street art as we walked, so most of these I’m not sure where I found many of them, but it’s always fun to bump into it when I least expect it.
We found some near the Ha’penny Bridge, around Temple Bar, near Dublin Castle, on the north side of the river and plenty of other places we wandered.
We even saw a knitted tree near the canal.
Much of the urban art I saw in Dublin appeared to be commissioned and most of the rest was just scrawling tags in the form of vandalism, but it looks like the city is embracing and encouraging experimentation with murals and larger pieces of public art.
Evolve Urban Art is one group that’s helping to bring some colour to the city’s streets.
They are working with businesses and artists to find commissioned, legal spots to paint.
It sounds like Dublin City Council is also keen to splash some artistic colour around the grey streets.
They set up the Beta Project to try out some different options to make the city a more liveable place.
One of these projects involved painting some 80 traffic boxes in various designs.
Of course, as in any city, it’s hard to get under the surface unless you have plenty of time to explore.
Dublin City Council has some designated graffiti areas like Ormond Place for example, that I didn’t get to.
The carpark of the Tivoli Theatre on Francis Street and Thomas Street sound like other places to check out.
Come Here to Me is a great blog about Dublin that often features urban art.
I hear Le Cool Dublin leads street art tours and I’m sure there’s also a whole big world of street art there that I don’t have a clue about.
There’s plenty of cool pieces I’ve seen online that I didn’t manage to bump into on this trip, but there’s always next time.
Thanks to the street art and the colourful doors, Dublin can be quite a vibrant place despite the weather.
On a side note, we’re going to Copenhagen tomorrow for a long weekend so if you know where to look for street art there, leave me a comment.