Artist Supports Ireland’s Gay Marriage Vote With 50-Foot Artwork

Joe Caslin's mural. Photo: David Sexton.
Joe Caslin's mural. Photo: David Sexton.

As Ireland prepares for this Friday’s referendum on marriage equality, artist Joe Caslin has created a powerful image in support of the law. Plastered on the exterior of Caherkinmonwee Castle in Galway, two 50-foot women embrace in a pose that evokes one of Ireland’s most famous paintings, Frederic William Burton’s 1864 watercolor, Hellelil and Hildebrand, The Meeting on the Turret Stairs.

Frederic William Burton, <em>Hellelil and Hildebrand, The Meeting on the Turret Stairs</em> (1864). Photo: courtesy the National Gallery of Ireland.

Frederic William Burton, Hellelil and Hildebrand, The Meeting on the Turret Stairs (1864).
Photo: courtesy the National Gallery of Ireland.

Based on an old Danish ballad, the piece shows the final moments between two young lovers, a princess and her bodyguard, before the bodyguard is executed for being an unsuitable match. The artist also depicted two men in a similar embrace on a prominent wall in the center of Dublin (below). “The significance of the painting is of someone having a higher power over a union of love and not allowing it to take place,” Caslin told artnet News via a phone conversation.

He hopes that the resemblance to the famous work of art will help sway undecided Irish voters. “It’s a painting that has been selected as Ireland’s favorite painting on and off over the last decade,” Caslin said.

Joe Caslin's mural. Photo: David Sexton.

Joe Caslin’s mural.
Photo: David Sexton.

While the castle in Galway is off the beaten path, the 40-foot-tall Dublin paste up is in one of the city’s most heavily trafficked neighborhoods. “I had looked at that wall for the past five years,” Caslin said. “It’s right smack bang in the middle of the city.”

Each drawing is based on a photograph by Seán Jackson (below), and took about a week to complete. The pieces were then printed on biodegradable paper and installed using a potato-based adhesive that will not have any negative effects on the historic structure.

The photograph Joe Caslin's mural is based on. Photo: Seán Jackson.

The original photograph study for the mural.
Photo: Seán Jackson.

Since the installation of the Dublin piece, Caslin has received many e-mails of support. “To have something like that as a 40-foot piece in the center of the city was incredibly important to a large number of people,” Caslin said. “It’s more to do with the acceptance.”


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