Words: Eva O’Beirne
Titled the “Public Art Mural (Exempted Development) Bill 2022”, the legislation plans to lobby for exemptions to planning permission for certain categories of public art murals.
Dubin-based collective SUBSET is at the forefront of calling for the liberalisation of public art in Ireland.
SUBSET have previously engaged in a legal battle with Dublin City Council, who took issue with three public murals made by the collective across the capital: “The Horseboy” mural in Dublin 7, “Think And Wonder” on the side of Granthams cafe in Dublin 8, and a painting of naturalist David Attenborough on the South Circular Road, also in Dublin 8.
Subset has had other artwork removed from Dublin city walls, such as the Stormzy mural in 2017.
As it currently stands in Dublin, planning permission is required to paint a mural as per the Planning and Development Regulations and the Planning and Development Act.
SUBSET says Dublin is behind the times and is calling on the government to liberalise murals rules. They say that Ireland should embrace street culture like Brooklyn and Melbourne, where artists are free to paint murals in certain zones providing permission has been granted by the building owner and the content isn’t political.
SUBSET is of the belief that this legislation and the associated process and procedures are “questionable at best”, and “require scrutiny and subsequent revision”.
“The framework is outdated. The unofficial policies are ill-conceived and ill-equipped to support the progress and development of the art form and its associated activities,” SUBSET explains.
SUBSET have routinely stated their belief that murals are an integral part of a healthy, cultural and democratic society.
“They provide a platform for diversity and inclusivity and showcase imagination at scale and prominence. They inspire children and adults alike. They shine a light on our past and place a spotlight on our future. They open our eyes and minds. They give rise to change, something sorely needed in Dublin and throughout Ireland,” explained.
The “Public Art Mural (Exempted Development) Bill 2022” will be introduced in Dáil Éireann on February 2 to address this issue. The proposition is based on a combination of national experience and international precedent.
“We must raise questions of civic importance, engage in conversations to seek solutions and take action to ensure our voices are heard. The Public Art Mural (Exempted Development) Bill 2022 is an opportunity to explore that.”
“We believe the committee-mediated method to public art can be overly prescriptive. An organic and grassroots approach is more often a truer representation of the public’s values, whilst at the same time protecting the position of public art as a driver for change,” SUBSET concluded.
SUBSET have also created a downloadable template for the public to show what public art they themselves would create.
Share it online to show what art you would like to see in your city and across your country. To make sure SUBSET sees your work, use the hashtags #makepublicartpublic #publicartbill #artxpublic.
You can find the template here.
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