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Creativity in Adversity – Lockdown and the meaning behind ‘TheArtOfAsbestos’

“TheArtOfAsbestos”, often shortened to ‘Asbestos’ is the distinctive moniker by which a Dublin street artist operates in and around Dublin City Centre. Amassing 4,500 Instagram followers, the unidentified artist has experienced wide popularity with his ‘Lost’ series of spreads, which can be found scattered around Dublin City, and even making cameo appearances in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Image Credit: @TheArtOfAsbestos 
Image Credit: @TheArtOfAsbestos 

Whilst the ‘Lost’ series only began in 2018, the artist has been involved in street art for over 12 years. 

Speaking to The Liberty Newspaper, Asbestos outlined the direction of his artwork, it’s place in Dublin City, as well as how he used creativity as an outlet during lockdown. 

Is Dublin City in need of more dedicated artists like yourself? Or is there a growing group of people being drawn to this type of artwork? 

“There are already many artists as, or more dedicated than myself in Dublin and with everything that’s happening this year, it seems like art is going to be one of the things that keeps us sane and helps us all to see a way out of this. So yeah, I’m seeing lots of amazing new work from people experimenting on the streets”. 

“This type of disruption often leads to an amazing explosion of creativity, and from all the conversations I’m having with artists this year, they’re under pressure, but inspired, and often doing some of their best work”. 

One of the more eye-catching spreads that Asbestos has designed was the “Lost Crane” poster, seemingly far more politically-charged than other satirical spreads. 

Image Credit: @TheArtOfAsbestos 

Your ‘Lost Crane’ spread seemed far more political than most of your other murals or spreads, will politics start to become a factor in your future work? 

“If it feels right yes. My work is less about politics, and more about the city and how we all use it.”

 The lost posters are a little poke at people to look around them and think. They’re about what we own and what we’d care about if we lost it, so the lost crane felt right at the time, as the city was being consumed by hotel building cranes 

Aside from the ‘Lost’ series, Asbestos has also worked on murals at the Cork Jam as well as the Arklow Jam. 

Pictured: Crane Lane Mural
Pictured: Arklow Skatepark Mural

Graffiti is still outlawed under the Criminal Damage Act 1991, and whilst there are areas designated for legal graffiti, legal-walls.net has found that only 12 of these walls are used in Ireland, with two closed. Elsewhere in Europe, cities such as Berlin and Paris have invested in allowing graffiti artists to express themselves. 

Should the government be investing more in public artwork like most other European countries? Or is the fact that this type of artwork is niche and somewhat of a counterculture that makes it so appealing? 

“That’s the rub isn’t it, with funding and investment comes control. So yes, I’d love to see support for public art, but it must maintain artistic freedom. So much public art is dictated by committee, and ends up being bland. That’s the joy of unregulated art, it’s not being constrained. 

“But projects like Ardú in Cork are a great example of the council working with artists and creating amazing murals. The way Dublin City council is approaching it is too restrictive and not of any benefit to the city.” 

Ardú is a yearly event initiated by Cork City Council from 12th – 31st of October, encouraging street artists to brighten-up the city. 

What can we expect down the line from The Art Of Asbestos? 

“More posters, more murals, new things lost. As I said, the turmoil and disruption this year has meant it’s been one of my most creative periods, it’s given me time to think and I’m really loving the work I’m making.” 

Be sure to look out for The Art of Asbestos’ artwork around the city, and follow @TheArtOfAsbestos on Instagram. 

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