THE city centre is about to be fixed with the gaze of two new young men featuring in massive street art works, similar in stature to the Ranks project on the Dock Road.
The murals are the work of Joe Caslin and his Our Nation’s Sons project, which aims to reposition young men to the heart of the community, rather than sitting on the sidelines.
After completing the visually stunning Ranks project, the artist, backed by the city’s environment department and working under the umbrella of City of Culture and in tandem with seven youths from CBS Sexton Street and Crescent College Comprehensive, has now moved focus to two walls on Lower Mallow Street.
The walls have come alive in the city, with one completed massive mural on the corner of Lower Mallow Street and O’Connell Street, and a third expected to start work in the coming days directly across the road on the side of the old county council building.
“These are more accessible to people, when we have been installing people have been literally down around the barriers, talking up to us,” said Joe this week.
“It is great because the young lads that are working with us can now explain their involvement and what they are doing, and it becomes much more of a rounded project for them.”
The acclaimed illustrator and street artist is aware that the thought provoking social art project, which aims to empower young men and give them a sense of belonging, is capturing the public imagination.
“Some people think it is the Mona Lisa,” laughed the artist, “others couldn’t understand how we got it up and the scale of it, but all the reaction so far has been pretty phenomenal.
“People are even starting to recognise the style, they see the one on Mallow Street and know straight away that it is the same as the one on the Docks.
“They are asking a bit more now what the story is. Beforehand they would have seen it - and we don’t put any writing whatsoever on it - so if you go and find what it is, you have to do your research, read an article or go online and through word of mouth.”
Joe clearly believes a significant number of young men have been pushed to the very edges of society, creating feelings of neglect and apathy.
“In a way yes. What we are focusing on is, we know exactly the position that young men are in at the minute, it is in the newspapers every day of the week. What we are trying to do is flip that totally on its head - where people see a young lad, they see a stereotype,” he said.
“We are stripping that completely and taking random young lads and putting up something that is truly amazing and positive and on a huge scale, and it is them that is doing it, that potential is in all of them,” he added.