How Cork city murals became a global art phenomenon

If walls could talk — well, whether they can or not, in Cork they’d find it tough enough going to get a word in because 14 inspiring pieces of street art that enhance the city’s cultural landscape are sparking all the conversations anyway.

That’s in real life and across online platforms — plus Ardú Street Art has been earning international kudos in a raft of respected travel and art journals and websites, including Travel US Magazine and brooklynstreetart.com.

The large-scale works burst onto the Leeside scene in all their Technicolor glory during the lockdown of October 2020, originally bringing seven leading Irish street artists — Deirdre Breen, Maser, James Earley, Peter Martin, Shane O’Driscoll, Aches, and Garreth Joyce — together to create murals at key Cork city-centre locations.

The mural by Aches. Picture: Clare Keogh

The mural by Aches. Picture: Clare Keogh

Thanks to exceptional levels of community engagement and support, the event returned in 2021 with four more walls unveiled by Shane O’Malley, Friz, Conor Harrington, and Asbestos and the following year artists Claire Prouvost, Kitsune Jolene, and VENTS137 made their mark.

Maser with his final piece for Ardú Street Art, located at The Kino, Washington Street. Picture: Clare Keogh

Maser with his final piece for Ardú Street Art, located at The Kino, Washington Street. Picture: Clare Keogh

The Ardú Street Art project is the brainchild of visual artist and designer Shane O’Driscoll, muralist, stained-glass artist and secondary school teacher Peter Martin, and the organiser of the annual Cork Graffiti Jam, Paul Gleeson.

Shane O'Driscoll's completed mural. Picture: Clare Keogh

Shane O’Driscoll’s completed mural. Picture: Clare Keogh

It’s project-managed by Rose-Anne Kidney of Goldiefish Events and made possible with support from Cork City Council and Creative Ireland.

Now the patrons of Ardú Street Art Project, Pat McDonnell Paints and Ardú Street Art Ltd, have been shortlisted for a coveted homegrown honour — in the Business to Arts Awards. The project is in the running for the Jim McNaughton Perpetual Award for Best Commissioning Practice category (supported by TileStyle).

Shane O’Driscoll, Deirdre Breen, Peter Martin, James Earley, Aches, and Garreth Joyce. Picture: Clare Keogh 

Shane O’Driscoll, Deirdre Breen, Peter Martin, James Earley, Aches, and Garreth Joyce. Picture: Clare Keogh 

The Business to Arts Awards recognises excellence in creative partnerships.

Running for over 30 years, the awards are a flagship event on the corporate-cultural calendar and feature a range of categories that celebrate arts sponsorship, commissioning, philanthropy, staff engagement programmes, corporate social responsibility, access programmes, creative community initiatives, and more.

Artists taking part in Ardú Street Art. Picture: Jed Niezgoda

Artists taking part in Ardú Street Art. Picture: Jed Niezgoda

“Ardú are delighted to have been shortlisted in the Jim McNaughton Perpetual Award for Best Commissioning Practice category this year, we are a proud team who have enjoyed curating an ambitious catalogue of striking artworks throughout Cork city since 2020 and look forward to continuing this work with the support of Pat McDonnell Paints in Cork,” said Rose-Anne Kidney, project manager of Ardú.

“Considering the challenging conditions of the past two years and the quality of the awards submissions, it is a massive achievement to be shortlisted.”

Pat McDonnell Paints supported the “the Ardú vision of transforming previously anonymous corners of Cork City into truly memorable encounters”, added Bernadette Boyle, Pat McDonnell Paints.

  • The Business to Arts Awards take place on Tuesday, September 12, in the National Concert Hall, Dublin

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