I’ve recently been out and about on the hunt for dirty walls again, potential “canvasses” for my powerhose murals. As some of you may know, I trudge through fields and farms, dragging my powerhose behind me with grand ideas in my head and the hope I can find the right wall to bring them to life. I sometimes think when I’m long gone I’ll haunt these hills, still searching for that perfect wall. People will hear a strange wailing sound and they’ll say, “Kevin’s out tonight, I can hear the squeaky wheel on his powerhose.” Then they’ll close the curtains and stay inside and think no more of it.
As always, this series of murals has been in association with Sliabh Beagh Arts. The aim of the organisation has always been to bring art out to where life happens rather than hide it away behind closed doors and they carry out this task with ingenuity, lateral thinking and a real sense of fun. I love being a part of the chaos.
Occasionally all the Sliabh Beagh projects for a particular year will have an overall theme running through them and this has been one of those years. The theme is Growth and Decay and it’s up to each artist to interpret that however they see fit. I had to somehow translate that into visual art in the form of the powerhose murals and after the usual process of coming up with twenty ideas and scrapping about seventeen of them I found something to hang the title on.
I thought there’s no better analogy for growth and decay than the cycle of a year. I wanted to show a year through the seasons from birth to death, centring around a tree in full bloom on one side and shedding leaves on the other. To bring some life into it I added two lambs in the Spring and a fox in Winter. This also serves as a sort of predator and prey situation – all part of the cycle. Nice idea but this was going to take one big wall! The perfect candidate was sitting in the shadow of Carn Rock, a beautiful setting and viewpoint so I got to work.
After the usual fumbling about with tap fittings and a powerhose with one wonky wheel I made a start. The first few strokes are really crucial because they line out the picture. I make some small, basic strokes to mark where certain elements are going to be and where they all fit together. I have to resist going into too much detail at this stage or I risk losing the big picture in my mind and ruining the perspective in the image.
The hardest part is thinking in black and white. I paint in full colour and have the luxury of playing with different tones to makes certain things stand out or blend in but with these murals I have light and shade. That’s it! It’s all very well when I’m sketching my design out on paper and changing things about so they all work together but when I’m standing in a field looking at a sixty foot wall, holding a powerhose with no “edit – undo” function it all gets a lot more complicated.
I have to say thank you to everyone who has let me loose on their walls. It’s not my favourite part, going round and asking people can I use them because they don’t know what they’re going to get and usually at that early stage, neither do I so those who do give me permission are taking a leap of faith. For all they know they might not like what I come up with but I’m glad to say nobody’s regretted it yet. As far as I know! I’ve met some great people and real characters and hopefully I’ve given them something to talk about, even if it’s only, “Wait till you see what this eejit’s done.”
I’ve already got my thinking cap on for the next ones so if the wind carries to you that unmistakable squeaking noise you’ll know it’s just Kevin with the wonky wheel. Pay me no mind.
This is the finished mural and here’s a short time-lapse video of it coming to life:
Until next time, take care and stay off the beaten track,