The latest large-scale piece of artwork by renowned street artist Joe Caslin was installed in Trinity College Dublin’s Front Square from 2 June to 3 July.
This new piece, which was commissioned as part of the Trinity Creative Challenge, is the first of a three-part series entitled The Volunteers which aims to highlight the importance of volunteerism in some of the most pressing issues in Irish society including drug addiction, mental health, and direct provision.
The piece, which was placed on the front of Sir William Chambers House Number Two in Trinity’s Front Square, was also accompanied by a short film on the theme of decriminalising drug addiction.
Caslin said, “The project aims to highlight endemic issues that impact Irish society and her people through the portrayal of emblematic volunteers. I believe the artist has a valued place in Irish society and that we are ‘cultivators of empathy’. Our role is to be observant at all times and to do our best to create and feedback. To hold a mirror up; to advocate and to provoke.
“This particular drawing, like all projects I have undertaken, has been personally poignant. I am driven by what I believe in and by the life I have been given. Addiction courses through my family and circle of friends in various guises. I would consider this to be true to most Irish households. Some addictions are tolerated and some are not. Some celebrated and some made criminal and suffer life-long punishment. Addiction is an illness and has no place in the courts. We can do better.”
The artwork features as its subjects, activist in recovery from heroin addiction Rachel Keogh, Independent Senator, activist and former Trinity Students’ Union President, Lynn Ruane, and Fiona O’Reilly, managing director of SafetyNet.
According to Caslin, the project reflects on Ireland’s century of progress and asks what battles we must fight in the present to remake the country for the better.
The short film that accompanies the artwork is directed by Brian Deane with cinematography and production by Robert Hallinan Flood. It features a spoken word piece by poet Erin Fornoff, performed by Ally Ní Chiaráin with music scored by Maurice Seezer.
The Volunteers project was supported by the Trinity Creative Challenge and the Arts Council of Ireland.
This article features in the summer 2017 edition of the Provost’s ezine, TRINITY NOW.