Years back at the start of the fall of the empire I did speak with my friend Saso about the importance of noticing that an affluent society could be gauged by the signs of dumpsters outside homes and businesses – if things are looking good then there’s renovation work going on. Roadworks too are a sign that infrastructures are being cared for and improved but eerily and lately the number of cranes on the skylines or boys with page three breakfast rolls holding up our one way systems seem thin on the ground. The jokes and wolf whistles aren’t rolling like they used to.

But when I think of roadworks these days I have a different idea, I’m honoured to be documenting one by one some of the most respected artists in their field for a series of ‘on the street’ pieces or works that form a map that hopefully remain in the fabric of the city long after it’s inception as a part of Dublin Contemporary’s outlay this year.

As this is written the original drawings on Merrion Row by Conor Harrington have just dried and last week I was around for all of JOR’s potato / Tree of Life, Morgans studio work later to be moved into city centre based on the terminal one advert for the new part of the airport, Will St Legers winged sleeping bag and DMC’s girls, obviously too the documentation of RASK in the National Gallery of Ireland has been fairly well received online for it’s historic breaking of ground.

But seeing Mark Jenkins work in the basement of the Earlsfort terrace site created at lightning speed and the subsequent install at 5 sites around town may have taken the biscuit in the heaviness stakes so far! His trademark figures in various poses specifically the man on South William streets roof looking like a sad jumper really hit home when we talk about a city in flux or more potently the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. Less than 3 hours after one of his figures was installed [now in Harcourt street station] in a secret location the police felt compelled to remove him as he looked like a homeless person who hadn’t moved which surely reminds us to actually try and help those homeless people who do move! Someone got scared someone at last paid attention – Times are tough but don’t remind us of this fact, it’s not our fault that the people we vote to run our country are gone fishing. It’s terrible about the people on the streets but what can I do sitting here in my car waiting for the lights to change.

Katie Holten’s work is intriguing too as the messages tucked away have a resonance that resembles those times when I stop to wait for that same traffic and a message drifts out of my mind and onto the streets, I’m sure like me thats happened to you on the odd occasion, the very minute you stop you start to think and I’m positive too that Beckett himself would have pointed at their installation and smiled ‘Why didnt I” – find them for yourself here

No one more than I is looking forward to seeing Masers new piece for this reflection, D*Face of London fame and Escif from Spain is coming to town to add their finest so plenty of documentation of all that is to follow, and it’s the documentation that I love the most not the sick promo shot to keep the sponsor happy it’s the reality of this work that intrigues me, the dirty finger nails from paint on the street not the office fatigue of endless silent emails. I can smell the aerosol and see the years of build up on these creatives clothing, the wind and rain, fear of heights, derision and scorn don’t stop them they keep going making their proper mark not like some kid with a shit tag but an Artist beautifying a place that people can call their own. Say to one and other “that’s cool” but really what they mean is “I live here”


3 thoughts on “Roadworks

  1. What an excellent collection of photographs! Like the art on display around Dublin, your photography has a unique power of visual description, your fine photographs carry a strong measure of authenticity and conviction. It is a wondeful form of nonverbal communication, photography by itself can surmount the barriers of language and communicate through universal visual symbols and Mr Kelly, you have captured some of that really well in your photos especially of the artists at work.

    Well done!

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