A couple of months back I was asked by the Ossory Youth Group In my home town of Kilkenny to make a mural for Comhaire nà nÒg as part of a new workshop. With the help of the local council we were granted permission to create this piece under the Ossory Bridge on the Ring Road. An epic 80ft bridge that I have a very personal past with and have not gone down to In many years. It was an amazing experience to go back down there and create something so big In such a positive light. The area Is hugely popular for people walking their dogs, going for a jog and fishing alike but sadly at night also attracts some scruffy young characters who like to get wasted and trash the area. Over the years this has been intimidating to those who love and respect the area and there doesn't seem to be anyway of changing it. I was once one of those teen lads who would crack open a can under that very bridge and at the time didn't see the negative effect It was causing on the area.
Working with the Ossory Youth group, the local county council and Kilkenny's Major we hope to change peoples perception of this amazing space using one of stigmas thats attached to it, literally. Spray paint. The walls are covered with It and some folk hate it, some like it but either way It needs a fresh coat. The walls that are easily accessible will always be covered and tagged and this can't be stopped so a new approach Is needed. I suggested that they do more and let It be allowed. Give a kid a can of spray paint and they will fuck about but show them how to use it and they will take what they are doing seriously and create something worth looking at. I decided to paint this huge kid colouring In the wall with his crayons so no matter what Is done on the wall below Its his fault not the kids. On the 19th of this month Im taking the Youth Group down to the bridge where I'll show them some basics In spraying and how to treat the wall as a huge canvas and not just a shit wall to slap a name on. Im gonna donate any paint I have to them so that they will create a beautiful piece that reflects them in a good light and at the same time cleans up the area. We are In talks with the major to make this a designated graf wall that the youth group will manage, respect keep clean. Someone draws a cock on the wall they have the paint to go cover it with something decent. The scouts are involved as they are across the road so the area will be checked weekly and any trash or cans will be cleaned up. The main thing about this Is that the Youth are the ones doing this and they need to be supported by the older generation to make this work.
When Ross and I were under the bridge we talked to hundreds of people of all ages and told them the plan and they loved It, bar one woman who told us we were disgraceful, we think she didn't like giant children. 99% of folk saw It as a way forward and supported it to the full, hopefully this will be a way of the young people In Kilkenny having a greater voice and perhaps get that skate park they long deserved. All In all Its a stepping stone to something bigger and better. One elderly couple told us to paint the entire bridge, all the pillars and walls, make a cathedral out of it for all to see, It can be done so lets just call this the start.
I don't know what word expresses the biggest thanks ever but It goes to Ross Costigan who snapped and filmed the whole process from start to finish in the freezing cold. It meant more to me than anything having this legend there to film, drink tea and convince the passers by I wasn't a well organised vandal. Ross will have a time lapsed film made up soon for all to see so watch this space and his Ross Costigan Photography.