Dive into the features you want to see

Abortion alcohol alcohol free america Art artist spotlight awards beer Belfast best best looking Best New Music booze Brexit British Cannabis cbd Cheese chocolate Christmas climate change closure Coffee collaboration College Green Comedy cooking counter culture counterculture Cover Story Covid Culture DC Films Derelict Ireland Direct Provision Drink drug Drugs Dublin Dublin City Council Dublin International Film Festival easter Entertainment Environment equality Fashion feature feminism Festival Film First Listen Food gaeilge Gaming General News gift gifts Gigs Graphic Design guinness harm reduction Harry Styles healthcare Heaters Heatwave heist Hennessy Homelessness Housing HSE ice cream Identity instagram Interview introduction to ireland Irish Irish coffee Irish News irishmade justice Justice League Kanye West launch Leonardo DiCaprio LGBTQ+ List Lists Literature Living Hell Lockdown Index Made by District Made in Ireland magdalene laundries meme Mental Health menu merch metoo Michelin mural Music narolane new menu New Music News nightclub nom non-binary nphet One of everything Opener Openers opening openings Opinion Pairing pancakes Photography Pints Podcasts Politics pop up pop ups potatoes Premiere presents Pride queer Ray Fisher reservations Restaurants restrictions rugby Science Shebeen Shite Talk shitetalk signature dish Skateboarding small batch Social Media soup Space Subset sustainability tacos Taxis Technology Television The Big Grill theatre Thumbstopper tiktok To Be Irish Top 10 Tracks Top Ten Tracks Traffic Trans rights Transport Travellers trends TV Ukraine Ultimate Food Guide vegan Visual Art vodka Weed where to eat whiskey wine Women's rights Workman's youtube
General News / September 24, 2018

James Earley discusses his work in Cork Street’s skatepark

General News / September 24, 2018

James Earley discusses his work in Cork Street’s skatepark

“I think there’s something very beautiful about the degradation of a public artwork like this piece…”


In late 2017 the ribbon was cut at Dublin’s first new park in eight years. Situated in the storied Dublin 8, Weaver Park was built as part of the Liberties Greening Strategy, an initiative created to establish community areas and to improve current recreational locations.

The park has since been nominated for a European public space prize and has become a go-to for local families and those engaging in sub-culture. While the comment sections on national platforms were littered with the usual ignorant bile about vandalism and antisocial behaviour, the park has become an important place for Dublin’s skate community.

Just a stone’s throw away from the park is the base for another key element of the city’s cultural community, artist James Earley. His studio is located on Cork Street.

While Dublin City Council has been receiving deserved flack of late for ‘greywashing’ the city, they must be given some credit for their recent work with James. Just a couple of months after launching his solo show ‘Things Fall Apart’, he was commissioned to transform the bowls of the skate park. His distinct style is influenced by his family history in stained glass window making, with his large-scale work on the Blooms Hotel in Temple Bar and various other pieces brightening up dozens of Dublin city corners.

We caught up with James to discuss his most recent work and why community is so important for a place like Cork Street, with photography by Ellius Grace for the September Guide.

james earley by ellius grace for district magazine

How did the project on Cork Street come about?

The project came about through Colin Farmer, who has been an active member of the Irish skating scene for many years. He lives on Cork Street and was instrumental in the planning of the skate park, working closely with Dublin City Council to bring the project to fruition. He got in touch earlier in the year and asked me if I would like to put a proposal forward to create an artwork for the space.

It’s very close to your studio, was it nice to work on something in your community?

Yes, creating a work within a space that’s used by so many people has been a very humbling and rewarding experience. I really can’t get over the response to the piece from the community, it has been overwhelmingly positive from everyone I’ve met through the project. I also visit the park regularly with my own two children, so there’ll be an added layer of excitement now when I bring them down.

In a city that’s seeing a lot of redevelopment in areas traditionally known for community, how do we preserve authenticity?

I’m not really sure what the right answer is. Gentrification and rising house prices will always affect initially overlooked inner-city spaces and, unfortunately, it ultimately beats the charm and character out of a lot of these traditional communities. City planning is key really, regulating developments can help as well as denoting key streets and properties as heritage areas with tight restrictions on their development.

This isn’t easily done in a moment when an economy is growing or booming after a recession. I do feel that things are happening at an alarming rate and that if there isn’t some kind of intervention irreparable changes will occur.

james earley by ellius grace for district magazine

Your work is all over the city and further afield, but how much did you have to adapt to a project like this?

I hadn’t worked on a project of this nature before, well one that was so closely connected to a public space that was so actively used. As well as the wider local community, I was very mindful of the skating community when planning the piece and met up with them on a few occasions down at the space to talk through it. I wanted them to have ownership over the artwork and wanted to make sure that my intervention within their space was a positive addition and not an afterthought or, at worst, would hinder their use of the space. Luckily, this was far from the case!

There are marks on the pieces already from skateboards, how does it feel to see your work so integrated and ‘used’ in something like a skate park, as opposed to being perfectly preserved in a gallery?

I love it and was really looking forward to seeing it get bet up and broken in. It gives it character, charm and exactly what you said, it integrates the work into the skate park. Artworks created in the studio are for gallery or tightly controlled internal environments, artworks in the public domain are open to the elements and by proxy are transient in their nature. I think there’s something very beautiful about the degradation of a public artwork like this piece and being overly precious about a work in a high traffic area, that ultimately isn’t your space to begin with, should be more than enough for any artist.