- 07 Nov 19
‘Concrete Lady You’re My Baby Tonight…’. Back in 2009, I received a text message from Damien Dempsey at 3am with these words.
The next morning I spray painted the slogan on the side of The George Bernard Shaw pub. At that time, I was impulsive and acted on almost every creative thought. This resulted in a sporadic mix of work with no considered visual identity or structure, but it was ‘now’, it was ‘fun’ and it was unseen before!
The George Bernard Shaw embodied a similar creative ethos to me.
My relationship with the Shaw began 12 years ago – it was my creative and social stomping ground at that time, and for many years after. In some ways I grew up there. Am I old now?
My first studio was there. Upstairs, out the back and across the roof to what we called ‘the bunker’. A self-contained concrete cube with no windows and a rusty steel door that was off its hinge. I was now ‘officially an artist’.
The trade was: I had a free studio and I became their resident artist – painting anything from ‘car boot sale’ signage to the doors of the ladies’ toilets. I, along with others, turned the bar and surrounding areas into one of Dublin’s best Halls of Fame for graffiti.
We were emotionally invested in the space because of what it gave us in return. It was a new location for people who orbited on the periphery. The Shaw was a pirate ship that docked in Portobello – it was not accepted, it didn’t belong, but neither did we!
George Bernard Shaw became our saviour and the ambassador for what I like to call ‘the first generation “hipster”’: the independent artists, the shit-talkers and the sesh moths. I truly lived it and loved it.
The past few years I’ve worked and lived in different cities and countries. But, surprisingly, without regret or want of understanding, I’m back looking at ‘the bunker’.
I can see it from my new studio which is located on Charlemont St, one street behind The Shaw. Yes, I am older, but it still looks the same.
As the Shaw comes to an end, I feel the story continues with everyone who experienced and loved the place.
Those same artists who painted its walls continue to create, and I now exhibit their work in my gallery at Atelier Maser. In some way I like to believe we are still flying its pirate’s flag!
The works of the artists that exhibit at Atelier Maser can be seen at VUE art fair this November 7-10, at the Royal Hibernian Gallery, Dublin.