Waterford Walls is an international street art festival founded in 2015, to inspire communities through art. The festival has seen some of the best known Irish and international street artists come to Waterford and transform the city’s walls.
Against all odds, the Waterford Walls Street Art Festival celebrated its 6th successful year in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival was restructured and lasted over 45 days instead of the traditional long weekend in August.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Waterford team designed a responsible socially distant event, inviting artists from all over the country to arrive one at a time to paint their murals, creating an experience both on and offline that still managed to focus on Waterford Walls’ core values: transforming and regenerating urban spaces while inspiring and connecting the public.
Unfortunately, the international artist programme had to be postponed until 2021. However, seven walls were painted by nine renowned artists: Shane O’Driscoll, Garreth Joyce, Signs of Power, Magda Karol, Dan Leo, and two collaborative pieces created by Aches & Maser, and Niall O’Lochlainn & Caoilfhionn Hanton.
The festival, taking into account the restrictions in place due to the pandemic, had daily time-lapses, live videos and interviews online and reached a record audience, inviting people from all over the world to be a part of the festival experience.
The guided Art Trails became an intimate experience with a capacity of five people being introduced, which only boosted their popularity as this gave participants a much more in-depth tour of the city and its artworks. These tours are ongoing throughout the year and make for a novel and much-loved addition to Ireland’s oldest city, and largest outdoor art gallery.
Graffiti and Street-Art workshops have also been redesigned, enabling them to become part of Waterford Walls’ ongoing programme throughout the entire year, and have been especially popular in schools, bringing joy and creativity during a long and difficult year.
The festival is also delighted to announce it’s plan for a new dimension to its traditional offering: a comprehensive digital Waterford Walls programme coming soon in 2021. The team is currently working on bringing more of the festival and it’s artworks online and in digital format, for everyone to be able to access and enjoy around the world from the comfort of their own homes. This project is well underway and includes the digitisation of all the artwork in the city into a downloadable app; an interactive map which will be a virtual representation of Waterford city and it’s artworks; and, virtual street art tours allowing people to join a tour from anywhere in the world.
“If we have learned anything this year festival, is that with the pandemic we had two choices, to shut down or to adapt and rise to the challenges we faced. By working through these strange times we have found new and exciting ways that we can bring our festival to a larger international audience, and grow it on a digital platform, reaching communities and inspiring people from all over the world with our spectacular collection of artwork.” Edel Tobin, founder of the festival
Artist Magdalena Karol‘s mural is titled ‘The Last Day of Summer’ brought a much needed peaceful meditative vibe to an otherwise anxious period for all.
Artist Shane O Driscoll‘s abstract artwork is called ‘Bloodline’.
“It’s inspired by the creative connections that continue to flow throughout the country despite people being unable to connect physically. It’s an abstract blood flow between Cork(Red)and Waterford(blue), with the shapes representing cells. The artwork was created during lockdown when people were distanced but a strong online connection kept inspiring one another”. Shane O Driscoll
It’s an abstract blood flow between Cork (Red) and Waterford (blue) …
Artist Garreth Joyce mural brought colours to a grey 2020. The finished mural is about the idea of how the pandemic has changed the world for the better – the environment, nature and civilisations ability to adapt.
Artist Signs of Power‘s mural is titled ‘So Fresh’.
Artist Danleo painted ‘The Cat’ across from the people’s park entrance.
Despite the huge disruption of a global pandemic Waterford Walls still managed to deliver its arts programme for 2020.
Photo Credit Karol Kachmarsky. Official Photographer for Waterford Walls Festival