Lonely Planet Writer

Buildings of Irish town taken over by 40 street artists for Waterford Walls festival

A colourful and creative street art festival took over the town of Waterford in Ireland this week, with 40 local and international artists descending to make their mark on the city.

Waterford Walls
An untitled piece painted by SmugOne as part of Waterford Walls. It is one of a pair on the gable ends of the old military barracks in Waterford. Image by Kate Keehan and Leon Murphy/Waterford Walls.

Founded in 2015, Waterford Walls is led by a team of passionate volunteers with the aim of bringing some colour back to the city of Waterford through street art. The event first began when 25 derelict buildings were transformed with beautiful and provocative murals that soon garnered attention all over the country. The now annual festival features a diverse range of talented artists sharing their work in public spaces on buildings and walls all over the city.

Waterford Walls Street Art
The Elephant Stomp by Louis Masai on Barker Street, Waterford. Image by Kate Keehan and Leon Murphy/Waterford Walls

Founder and project manager Edel Tobin said, “Since last year the festival has really grown in size and it was a huge undertaking with almost double the number of artists. Following the overwhelming success of 2015, we wanted to deliver something even bigger as we knew it was something the public would appreciate. With 49 vibrant murals now in place, the city streets have been hopping all weekend as the public strolled around the art trail meeting and engaging with the artists.”

The festival saw 40 local and international artists taking over selected buildings throughout the town. Image by Kate Keehan and Leon Murphy/Waterford Walls

This year’s Waterford Walls festival included the addition of T-Walls, a little sister project that saw five new murals being added to the areas in Tramore town in Waterford. Plans are in place to expand the Waterford Walls project to further areas across the county in future.

Waterford Walls
Another mural by Smugone seen on the opposite gable end of the military barracks. Image by Kate Keehan and Leon Murphy/Waterford Walls

Artist’s that took part in the festival included well-known Irish figures such as Joe Caslin, James Earley, Steve Kemp and Caoilfhionn Hanton.

Waterford Walls
A piece by Brussels based artist Kasart. Image by Kate Keehan and Leon Murphy/Waterford Walls

The four-day programme was run with the help of volunteers and included the painting of murals, talks, art jams, music trails, family picnics and workshops. Locals got involved with the celebrations, assisting with promoting and stewarding live events while local businesses sponsored murals around the town.

Waterford Walls
James Earley completing the biggest mural of the festival that comes in at 27 x 7 metres. Image by Kate Keehan and Leon Murphy/Waterford Walls

“The great thing about Waterford Walls is the legacy of the murals,” said Louise Flynn, Curator of the project. “Though the festival has concluded, the murals will remain for a while anyway. Like the transience of city life, street art murals are not permanent but will last as long as walls are not painted over or required for other purposes.”

Waterford Walls
A piece by Kathrina Rupit on Thomas Hill in Waterford. Image by Kate Keehan and Leon Murphy/Waterford Walls

More information about Waterford Walls and future projects is available on their website. An easy to follow Google map trail of the murals can be seen here.