Street Art for Good People in Hard Times

Maser

Maser is one of Dublin’s most respected graffiti artists, who has been painting on both the Dublin and international scene for over ten years. His work always carries a message, be it the simple “Maser loves u” to “love yourself today” and never fails to make his audience, the passers-by, or at least me, stop and say “I love it.” – read an interview with Maser.

So far, Maser has left artworks in London,Germany,Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Copenhagen, Holland, Prague and New York (via).

Maser Street Art
Camden Street, Dublin city centre

Seeing Maser at work on the 1913 Lockout

It just so happens that I’ve seen Maser at work, and didn’t even know it. I’m really glad that a) I saw him make it and (b) I now know who made it. What is ‘it’?

This:

Credit: Colin Layde
Credit: Colin Layde

2013 is the centenary of the Lockout, the industrial disputes that engulfed the nation in 1913, reducing many, many workers to starvation-level hardship. The piece above is a homage to the year that’s in it and the historical events that should not be forgotten, and are a collaboration with renowned French urban artist JR.

I was walking home from work, down Leeson Street to Stephan’s Green, when I saw two men spraying bright colours on the wall, using ladders and big thick strips of tape to make stripes. The next morning when I was walking to work, I saw the completed project. I think it’s great.

Maser’s Anne Devlin

There’s another of Maser’s really close to where I live, on the corner of Meath Street & Carman’s Hall. The image below is a portrait of Anne Devlin, a childhood hero of mine.

Anne Devlin acted as a housekeeper for Republican leader Robert Emmet and was forced to endure brutality in Kilmainham Gaol following his failed rebellion of 1803. Emmet was subsequently hanged (and beheaded, his head stuck on a pike to be made example of) on Thomas Street, and Devlin, once she was finally released from prison where she had been starved and tortured, died in poverty in the Liberties area of the city (which is where I live).

“I was in Kilmainham and I came across Anne Devlin. I learnt about her struggle and came out inspired to paint a picture of her,” Maser said. He was approached the very next day by the organisers of the Liberties Festival, and asked to paint the mural. Coincidence or what? (read more here)

“I had no interest in history as a kid. I paint in pop colours to catch kid’s eyes, so maybe they will investigate further and learn about Anne Devlin or the Lockout,” Maser said (read the rest of this article in Anne Devlin: A Forgotten Hero over on The Liberty website).

Anne Devlin - Jessica Maybury
Anne Devlin – Jessica Maybury

Maser and the Ballymun flats

Here’s another one of his that I really love, which was done on the side of one of the notorious Ballymun flats –

By Maser, Ireland

Here’s footage of the making of the ‘Concrete Jungle Mother Fairwell to your Stairwell Forever’ street art on the flats in Ballymun (in the photograph above). 

  1. Check out Maser on Facebook
  2. Follow Maser on Twitter
  3. Indulge your eyes on Maser’s Flickr photostream
  4. Check out the rest of Maser’s work over on the website.
  5. Maser’s profile on Irish Street Art

 

The Irish Adventures of Erwin Schrödinger

adobe illustrator

Erwin Schrödinger. Austrian. Physicist. Could possibly be played in a movie by Geoffrey Rush. Most probably famous (but maybe not) for his cat-related thought experiment which was devised in 1935, just before he moved to Ireland.

Wait, what?

Erwin Schrödinger's plaque in Merrion Square
Erwin Schrödinger’s plaque in Merrion Square

In 1939,  then Taoiseach Éamon de Valera was big into maths, and wanted to kickstart a top-notch research hub here in Ireland, which became the Institute for Advances Studies. Schrödinger, being a Nobel prize winner and all, was a fantastic catch for Dev.

Dev and Michael D – (an aside)

We call him Dev here because we’re cool like that. We refer to our current president Michael D Higgins as Michael D, for the same reason.

Schrödinger Packs His Bags

The outbreak of World War Two helped make up Schrödinger’s mind, though, of course. Although he wasn’t Jewish himself, he couldn’t bear what was happening to the Jews in Austria, and so came to a fairly unimportant neutral little island on the edge of Europe: ours.

And so, Erwin Schrödinger became the Director of the School for Theoretical Physics in 1940 and remained in Dublin for the next 17 years, becoming a naturalised Irish citizen in 1948. 

What is Life?

He wrote What is Life? here in Dublin, derived from a series of lectures given on the topic in Trinity College, Dublin. You can read the book in PDF form here.

Schrödinger concludes What is Life? with philosophical speculations on determinism, free will, and the mystery of human consciousness. He believed that he must reconcile two premises:

  1. the body fully obeys the laws of quantum mechanics, where quantum indeterminacy plays no important role except to increase randomness at the quantum scale; and
  2. there is “incontrovertible direct experience” that we freely direct our bodies, can predict outcomes, and take responsibility for our choice of action.

James Joyce and the City of the Dead

The Irish writer James Joyce saw Dublin as being a dead, stagnant thing. His most vaunted novel, Ulysses, depicts the city again and again in yellow and brown, which for Joyce were the colours of decay.

With this in mind, the thought of Schrödinger pondering the exact properties of life, crossing the boundaries back and forth between metaphysics and quantum physics, in Ireland, in a world torn apart by war and genocide, is a rather evocative one.

Food for thought.

Making characters in your novel ‘real’

sentence diagram

I was talking about the ‘solidness’ of characters the other day with Joao and Lisa. We were talking about how women in comicbooks are so often just side-kicks or sexual fantasies and little more than that.

It got me thinking about my own work, in prose rather than comics.

Characters in novels

There’s a character in my novel called Ryan. He’s basically just a voice because he has no personality and no physical description. Not ONE description of him appears anywhere throughout the 68,000 words.

This, understandably, has been bothering me for a while. I never sat down to do a character plan for him. I don’t do character plans for anyone.

I do feel though that as an aspect of a novel, a novel with only four characters, he’s fairly weak.

Enter: a typewriter called a Quiet-Riter

You might have heard me ranting about how I now own 16.5 pounds of cast-iron awesome, otherwise known as a Remington Quiet-Riter typewriter. I’d always wanted a typewriter because they’re machines that were made purely for writing and I figured sitting at them would be a little like how gyms affect people psychologically – they’re at the gym, they exercise for this amount of time, they go home. Done and dusted.

Typewriters have no internet. Yes, I know I could turn off the internet but I can also just turn it back on.

Surprisingly, since I came into the possession of the typewriter, I’ve been writing more. It just goes to show that when I eliminate all distraction, I work because there’s nothing else I can possibly do.

This pure single-mindedness is a lovely feeling to have.

What does this have to do with your barely-sketched character called Ryan?

So I was redrafting chapter one. It’s the most heavily edited chapter of the entire book. The typewriter doesn’t have the QWERTY keyboard that I’d be used to here in Ireland – it has a French-style one, an AZERTY. It also doesn’t have the number 1 or an exclamation mark, and it DOES have a load of really interesting symbols that are used in French such as the accent grave (`), the accent circonflexe (ˆ) and the accent tréma (¨ dieresis or umlaut).

I found myself trying to think of a reason to use these symbols because it was very exciting. I began by renaming Ryan  as Maël just so that I could use the tréma. Then I started writing a scene where he was the main character instead of the narrator.

Then I kept writing.

I’m not saying that Maël is now a fully-formed character in his own right, but I am saying that he has more depth and realistic idiosyncrasy about him than he did before I got the typewriter.

It goes to show that ideas and growth can come from the smallest of things, and you really should keep your eyes open at all times. You never know when you might get that old excited feeling about your work in progress back.

Over to you

What do you guys think? Any tips and tricks? Please share through the comments below!

Issue 4 of ESC zine is now available

esczine collage belton

ESC zine: visual art and writing

I’m happy to announce that issue 4 of ESC is available for purchase. Carefully cultivated and featuring international artists and writers, ESC#4 brings together a unique variety of talent. The first 100 issues come with a FREE insert by Steven Maybury!

Featuring photography, illustration, poetry and prose by Annie Yang, Steven Maybury, Áine Belton, WT Beck III, Jesse Bradley, Vivienne Baillie, Michael Andrew, Robert Doyle, David Tomaloff, and Louisa Love.

Get your copy for only €5 including P&P in Europe (International rates may vary but we’ll keep it as cheap as possible!). Simply email us at escpeople@gmail.com to order your copy.

Being a female comic book fan

In which I reveal my not-so-secret identity

So I’m pretty sick and tired of the way things are when you’re a female comic-book fan. You think girl gamers have it bad? Walk into a comic-book shop. One of the down-home indie ones. Go on.

The way my male friends talk about comics and go to comic-related movies annoys me just because I apparently have an instant invisibility cloak that I can’t control.

So I pawed at Twitter for a while, was RT’d by Everyday Sexism once, and then a completely unrelated incident made the camel’s back shatter into a trillion pixelated pieces and I thought….

…screw it. Continue reading “Being a female comic book fan”