A new mural, developed by artist Shane O’Malley and inspired by young people involved in the local Youthreach programme, is being installed on the wall of the newly developed Department of Social Protection (DSP) Centre at the Old Library on Shop Street in Tuam.
Senior Architect with the OPW, Lora Aughey said, “the proposed mural aptly reflects the ethos and function of the new tenants, the DSP, while the overall refurbishment of this historic building re-establishes it as one of the more significant buildings in the town. Public art is an important bridge between contemporary culture and society, and this piece is informed by the symbols and icons of Tuam – from the Saw Doctors to the GAA grounds, the High Cross and the beautiful stained glass windows of the Cathedral.”
Funding for the mural was provided as part of the Per Cent for Art scheme, a government initiative whereby 1% of the cost of any publicly funded capital, infrastructural and building development can be allocated to the commissioning of a work of art.
Head of Art Management at the OPW, Jacquie Moore said, “we are looking forward to seeing the mural being brought to life on the wall in Tuam. Works from the OPW State Art Collection are currently displayed in over 400 locations across Ireland, showcasing Irish art in civil service Departments and Government agencies, in courts and Garda stations, in garden and park settings, on paved forecourts and in courtyards.”
OPW and Galway County Council sought ideas and pitches from artists interested in responding to the tender document earlier this year.
Following a competitive tendering process, Galway City resident Shane O’Malley was successful and started his development of the mural, inspired and informed in conjunction with young people involved in Youthreach. Shane’s vibrant use of colour stems from his background in graffiti. He began painting graffiti in 2001, drawn to the act of writing and leaving his mark, which encompasses both a creative and destructive nature.
Galway County Arts Officer, Sharon O’Grady said, “for us it was very important that the mural should reflect the positivity, creativity and community of Tuam, particularly as it is seen through the eyes of the young people of the area. The future of Tuam will be shaped by those young people, who are living in its present, want to break with the past and want to make their mark in a positive way upon the town.”
Artist liaison with the Youthreach team in Tuam, Joanna McGlynn, was instrumental in getting young people locally to engage with the muralist and the project. Youthreach provides education, training and work experience programmes for young people aged 16 – 20 years.
Joanna McGlynn said, “creating opportunities for young people to use their voice and actively contribute to decision making in their town has been an empowering learning experience for all. Being involved from the start to the end of a project like this supports young people to understand their agency, positively developing their community through creative place making.”