Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the writing's on the wall

Today, on the way home from Ikea, i passed by an amazing and quite moving piece of graffiti art.

The words are by Damien Dempsey a young singer-songwriter and the artistic concept comes from street artist Maser.
The location is the gable end of one of the two remaining, soon-to-be-demolished, tower blocks in Ballymun.

I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, in a Dublin suburb called Ballyfermot. Although our area was generally regarded as hellish to outsiders, we thought ourselves extremely fortunate not to have been born in the Ballymun flats.

These tower blocks were Ireland's only foray into the 1960s high-rise social experiment. Of course everybody thought it was the bee's knees at the time; architects won awards,  builder-friends of high-ranking politicians won the contracts for construction, the inner-city slum problems were apparently solved at the stroke of a pen as the poor unfortunates became the new fortunates of the golden age - they were moved out to Ballymun, the shiney new suburb near the airport.

Click HERE to read more about Ballymun.

'Concrete Jungle Mother, Farewell to Your Stairwell Forever'

See the creation of this piece of public art here on Vimeo...

Maser / Ballymun Flats from Maser on Vimeo.

I suppose you don't have to be an Einstein to have a stab at interpreting what these now-iconic words mean.
But, we shouldn't allow the moment to pass us by without calling to mind all the amazing and wonderful people who came out of those flats [or perhaps who never left them at all... not even for a holiday!]. 
I am especially mindful too of the terribly tragic circumstances that befell many of the flats' inhabitants - not to mention the scumbag dealers, terror-mongers, and all the brutal money-lenders-cum-debt-collectors who also rose up, and crashed and burned there.

It really is as though the Ballymun flats actually gave birth to and mothered a whole generation of new suburban Dubliners containing all the full spectrum of humanity that springs forth from any given place.

Even the word 'stairwell' itself is completely and utterly evocative of an entire microcosm: the smell, the noise, the potential danger.

Small wonder, then, the genial author of this urban haiku wishes the place a vaguely nostalgic yet firm 'farewell FOREVER'.

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