The owner of a land­mark build­ing in Cork has de­fended his de­ci­sion to erase an iconic pieces of street art.

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Eoin English

The new owner of a land­mark build­ing in Cork has de­fended his de­ci­sion to erase one of the city’s most iconic pieces of street art.

Philip O’Con­nor said he ex­pected some re­ac­tion to his de­ci­sion to paint over the strik­ing im­age of a woman on the wall of the for­mer Kino cin­ema on Wash­ing­ton St — but he said some of the com­men­tary on so­cial me­dia has been over the top.

“I ex­pected a bit of a back­lash but you’d swear we were knock­ing down Shan­don Bells,” he said.

“I thought it was great art­work, and I am a fan of the artist’s work. It’s fair enough that some peo­ple are re­act­ing the way they are, but when you in­spect it up close, the wall was crack­ing and it needed a lot of work.”

Cre­ated in 2014 by in­ter­na­tion­ally-renowned Cork­born ur­ban artist Fin Dac, the Kino mu­ral is one of a se­ries by the artist fea­tur­ing Nice-based model, Mar­lena, whose eyes are masked by a brightly coloured band.

In the Kino mu­ral, ti­tled Jackie Oh!, she is wear­ing a T-shirt of Cork-based band The Frank and Wal­ters and fea­tures a tattoo on her left arm of Gregory Peck and Moby Dick, a nod to the movie filmed in Youghal.

The mu­ral was an in­stant hit and trans­formed the drab build­ing and the vis­ual streetscape in one of the city’s busiest en­ter­tain­ment hubs. It suf­fered some mi­nor graf­fiti at­tacks over the years, but was largely re­spected.

How­ever, con­trac­tors, work­ing on be­half of Mr O’Con­nor erased the piece yes­ter­day, paint­ing the en­tire build­ing’s Wash­ing­ton St fa­cade with white paint.

Mr O’Con­nor said as he pre­pared plans for the rea launch of the Kino as a cafe and mu­sic venue, he con­sulted lo­cally and re­alised the sig­nif­i­cance of both the build­ing and the mu­ral.

He said he con­tacted Fin Dac some weeks ago to dis­cuss his plans and to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of en­gag­ing him to cre­ate an­other mu­ral on the build­ing.

But speak­ing from Lon­don on route to Ber­lin yes­ter­day, Fin Dac said he is over­seas for the next four months at­tend­ing events and ex­hi­bi­tions in Tahiti, Mi­ami, New Zealand and Aus­tralia, and just was not avail­able. He said the eras­ing of such works is part of the busi­ness.

“To be hon­est, I was sur­prised it lasted so long. But the new own­ers reached out to me, I wasn’t avail­able, and you just can’t ask for more than that.

“I hope they will do some­thing in­ter­est­ing with the wall. I hope it will be well re­ceived and re­spected.”

Mr O’Con­nor, who runs Dop­pio cafe on Col­lege Road, said he has en­gaged street artist Fiona Geary to paint a new mu­ral, with work due to start to­mor­row.

He said it will have a 1960s retro feel, with a few nods to Cork’s mu­si­cal her­itage.

The en­tire build­ing in­te­rior has been ren­o­vated ahead of the planned open­ing next month of the Kino as a cafe and arts venue ca­pa­ble of host­ing gigs and poetry read­ings.

“It will hope­fully be­come more of a fam­ily spot. It will breathe new life into the area,” he said.

Mean­while, Fin Dac, who has worked on com­mis­sions for Ar­mani, Red Bull and the Lon­don 2012 Olympics, said he is de­lighted to have his work fea­ture along­side an­other in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned Cork-born ur­ban artist, Conor Har­ring­ton, in a new se­ries of postage stamps by An Post.

Fin Dac said he is al­ways open to talks on projects in Ire­land, and par­tic­u­larly in Cork.

Pic­tures: Larry Cummins

The artist Fin Dac in 2014 as he painted the ‘Jackie Oh!’ mu­ral on the wall of the for­mer Kino cin­ema on Wash­ing­ton St, Cork. The new owner of the build­ing has painted over it, but has li­aised with street artist Fiona Geary to paint a new work.

The wall of the for­mer Kino Cin­ema yes­ter­day af­ter it was painted over.

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