Mo’ Murals: Ringsend College teams up with artist Fin Dac

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As part of a civic and entrepreneurial effort to enhance the look of the Dublin Docklands, the Gibson Hotel has undertaken the second year of its Artist in Residency programme.

This year, the artist in question is Fin Dac, street artist and globetrotter. In keeping with the intent to enrich the Docklands and adjacent neighbourhoods, Fin has produced a mural for the Gibson itself (pictured), brightening up an empty lot, and at time of writing is set to work with students from Ringsend College to produce a mural on their site.

NewsFour catches up with Fin in his sumptuous hotel room in the Gibson, where a huge foam mat is laid out on the floor to protect the carpet from spray can oversplash.

Fin is in work mode, alert and chatty. First off, we talk about how this residency and collaboration with students came about. “I travel a lot as part of my work. I’ve just spent five months in the States, in Los Angeles, now I’m here,” Fin says. “While I was in LA, my assistant heard about this residency, that it was in its second year and that the hotel was looking for candidates, so she mentioned it to me and contacted the hotel. They had already contacted the College.”

Fin is a painter of large outdoor works, murals with a portraiture sensibility, unlike the more hip-hop influenced conventions that people associate with street art. His subjects tend to be beautiful women in black and white, with ornate colour overlaid (a signature motif is a sprayed-on domino mask).

He also produces gallery work for indoor display but the Ringsend College mural is a collaborative work. “Basically, we’re going to paint a wall and the kids will help me. In what form that help will be I don’t know,” says Fin. “If the teacher in charge is ok with it, I’ll show them how to cut stencils with craft knives. We’ll see.” By the time this story sees print, the mural will have been completed for some weeks.

As an example, he shows a brief video called A Little Time to Play, a record of a trip to Colombia. “I did a mural there with kids from a barrio. There were about 15 or so kids, aged between six and 12, and I doubt any of them had ever seen a spray can in their life, so they just went nuts. They wanted me to paint footballers, and they added their own stuff to it.” On the video, the kids have created a chaotic mass of clashing colours, and we see Fin going over it to add the finishing touches, giving form to their enthusiastic mess.

“No one gets bored throwing paint around,” he adds, drily, “some of the kids were spraying their football boots all mad colours; they really took to it.”

The students at Ringsend College will no doubt be less impressed by a simple spraycan but Fin seems to have already made his mark with them. “The art teacher from the College, Margaret Beausang, brought the students over when the residency began, and I was able to give one of the girls a gift,” he says. “A friend of mine designs nails, like false nails, and she’d done a set with one of my portraits. I don’t wear false nails, obviously, so I gave them away. It seems like a good start to things.”

By Rúairí Conneely