UPDATE 19th May 2015: Click here to see Joe's new mural for the ladies.
The gable end of the terrace on the corner of Dame and Georges Street is an oddity. The only busy city intersection with a flat wall that hasn’t been taken over by advertising billboards, it is a landmark location that artist Joe Caslin has had his eye on for some time.
Joe, 33, who by day teaches Leaving and Junior Cert art in Tullamore College, studied an MSA in Illustration in Edinburgh College of Art which is where he completed his first large scale public art piece. This was the first in a series entitled ‘Our Nation’s Sons’ which was designed to shine a light on struggling young men in society. Motivated by the big social issues, he continued this project on his return to Ireland, where he started working with photographer Sean Jackson on images that he would turn into his drawings which are then used in the large scale pieces.
With the marriage referendum coming up, Joe told Sean he wanted to do something significant for it. With stylist Colm Corrigan, David Cashman on grooming and models Barry Jeffers and James McLoughlin, they set about creating a piece inspired by one of The National Gallery of Ireland’s prized possessions; 'The Meeting on the Turret Stairs'.
Painted over 150 years ago and inspired by a 1000 year old ballad, it depicts a princess and her bodyguard whom she is forbidden to marry by the king. A piece Joe teaches on the leaving cert curriculum, he thought it perfect to base his own piece on. Love and unity forbidden by a higher power.
Joe spent a week re drawing the photograph, adding in details like the tattoos on the arms inspired by the motifs on the frame hanging in The National Gallery. Having previously secured permission from the building owner, Joe felt this piece was important enough to go on this landmark site and with the authorities consulted Joe and team worked from 9pm - 9am on the night of Friday 10th April 2015 to complete the giant artwork.
The finished piece has become an instant city landmark, receiving over one million views on social media within the first 48 hours and provoking all sorts of debate and discussion around the upcoming marriage equality referendum.
Joe is currently busy finishing a second drawing, this time depicting two girls and is looking for a site outside of Dublin to install it in the coming weeks. Having self funded this project to the tune of a few thousand euro, Joe says one email he received two days after he installed his piece on Georges Street made it all worth while. It was from a young guy who said that his drawing and all the public support it received gave him the confidence to go forward and make his relationship public for the first time.
The Marriage Equality Referendum takes place on 22nd May 2015. A2 prints of Joe’s piece can be purchased from The George Bar on Georges Street from Monday 13th April priced €20.
All photos in his article were taken by David Sexton Photography who didnt get much sleep that night.