Jor, portrait of a street artist

The Tivoli theatre car park is possibly the most astonishing part of the Liberties, due to the incredible work from many of Ireland’s most skilled street artists which is found there.

Jor” is one of the most established street art icons in the country.  He created a wonderfully peculiar piece in the Tivoli Theatre car park. He spoke to The Liberty about street art and its importance to the area.

For Jor, street art is of great significance to the Liberties because it helps the area to sustain its individuality. ”It is raw, passionate, and keeps a sense of independence to an area that is being overrun by advertising, alcohol, crappy shops and products, “he said.

Despite not growing up in the Liberties, Jor was a keen admirer of its structure, exploring its streets on his way home from work. “I like the architectural mix of the Liberties with the Guinness factory, the huge church on Thomas St and the new NCAD building. I also love the old lanes, the terraced houses and some of the flats.’’

The large amount of neutral space in the Liberties means that it is ideal for street art, almost like a giant canvas. According to Jor ’’the juxtaposed architecture from different times works well with the juxtaposed nature of street art.’’

Most of the work in the Tivoli car park was done at graffiti jams between 2008 and 2010 when artists from all over the world added their touch. ‘’I definitely think there should be more work like this in the Liberties and would love to see more places like that all over Ireland,” said Jor.

He is a huge fan of some of the work in the beautiful outdoor gallery. “My favourite stuff from the Liberties at the moment is the Espo stuff from the Tivoli theatre. I also love the portrait image by Mac outside the Tivoli.”

Portrait by "Mac"

Anyone from Ireland could tell from the speech bubbles attached to Jor’s characters that they are Dubliners. It certainly evokes the idea that it could be an overheard conversation from any of the Liberties’ many cafés.  But according to Jor, any hint of the characters being from Dublin is only to make the image more local. ‘’If I painted that in a foreign city I would probably use something from their locality.’’

He also says his own piece was not based on any characters in particular. “The main inspiration behind that piece is self sufficiency and going back to some simple things instead of consuming unnecessary products. It’s also about colour in life and celebrating everyday things that we take for granted like good food.”

This piece was recently used as part of the Upstart poster campaign, a non-profit art collective which aim was to put creativity at the centre of public consciousness during the Irish General Election Campaign in 2011. They used space usually used for election poster for street art posters.

For Jor, this was an excellent chance to see more art on the streets. “I submitted an image because I don’t think art is public enough. Most visual art in public places is advertising.’’

The idea central to street art is freedom of expression and on this Jor offers encouraging words to newcomers trying their hand at street art.  “Do your own thing. Don’t pay attention to graffiti and street art hierarchies and rules. Work on what you think is important.”

By Declan Marron

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