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Street Art with Pedigree

By Visit DublinDublin's Official Tourism SiteBIO
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Renowned street artist James Earley has created an epic, large-scale and visually stunning mural for Visit Dublin on City Quay. Here, the talented designer explains the significance of the image he’s chosen, his amazing artistic lineage in the city, and why we should be proud of our impressive pool of homegrown, creative talent.


Street Art with Pedigree

Hailing from the seaside town of Dún Laoghaire, James is a well-known and respected Dublin artist and graphic designer, whose work can be found in various public spaces around the city. So when it came to the City Quay piece, he didn’t hesitate to get involved. "I love what Visit Dublin do”, James begins. “I’m very much about promoting Ireland and what we have, and I’m very proud to be Irish. Dublin is steeped in history and culture; my illustration serves to visually capture the energy and excitement that the city has to offer.”

James’ finished image depicts a vibrant and colourful Irish Wolfhound, interspersed with iconic Dublin landmarks like the SpireHa’penny Bridge and Guinness Storehouse. "Is there a story behind this stunning visual? I looked into our past and took inspiration from old Celtic mythology”, James explains. “Because the Celts had a strong spiritual affinity with nature and the outdoors, I specifically sought out an animal; one that was strong and proud, but also had a playful nature. An Irish Wolfhound seemed a very fitting match. Within my illustration, the hound is set in a dynamic pose, with elements of the city melding into its forms, connecting the Dubliners and their spirit with their city.”

It’s no surprise really that James is passionate about art and design, especially in the public sphere, since he comes from a long line of talented visual artists. “My family ran a stained-glass business called Earley Studios out of Camden Street for over 100 years”, he says. “It was passed down through the generations until the 1970s when it closed.” Though James obviously wasn’t drafted into this family business, he says the art of his forefathers – examples of which can be found at St. John’s Lane Church on Thomas Street, St. Patrick’s Church in Rinsgend and Our Lady Queen of Peace Church on Merrion Road – have fed into his own extensive body of work. “They’re a great source of inspiration for me. In a way, I’ve continued that lineage by painting things like the Blooms Hotel in Temple Bar, inspired by Joyce’s Ulysses, which is a large-scale, public piece of art. The character panels are very much in that stained-glass style, in the way they’re broken up into sections.”

Stained-glass window by Earley & Co., c1950. Image: Vitraux

Street Art with Pedigree
Street Art with Pedigree

Does James feel that Irish attitudes towards street art are changing? “Absolutely. The street art movement that happened five or six years ago is much more accessible to the general public than say, graffiti, which people don’t tend to have a huge affinity towards. There doesn’t tend to be a conceptual meaning to letter-based graffiti - which can be nice - but it’s often quite closed and inaccessible. I was so honoured to be given the opportunity to paint the Bloom's piece; it’s shown the art-form in a really positive light. For me, if you’re painting a large piece of art that’s going to be in a public area, it really needs to speak to people. You’re putting your art in someone’s face whether they like it or not, and you should be mindful of that fact.”

Bloom Hotel, image: 
Inputout

It’s a stunning facade, and like the many pieces of street art dotted around the city, is a testament to the creative pool of talent thriving in Dublin today. James is enthusiastic when it comes to celebrating his peers. “There’s a phenomenal wealth of talent in Ireland”, he says. “It’s especially evident at the likes of [esteemed Dublin design conference] Offset. This year there was pretty much a 50/50 split between Irish and international speakers. It was a similar situation when I curated the art for the Dean Hotel. The owner assumed I’d be pulling big names from around the world, but I felt this was a really great opportunity to showcase the talent that we have in Ireland.”
 
And the cream of the Dublin crop is often right there in the public domain, easily accessible to anyone strolling around the city.

Street Art with Pedigree